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The Mystery of Spring

Many, many years ago, in the Land of the Sky Blue Waters,
A tiny seedling began to grow.
For years it grew—a slender stalk, an eager young tree—
inhaling the freshness of spring and the early morning dew,
through many suns, and many moons too,
fresh leaves unfolding each spring, strong limbs baring each fall.
Still, no one knew from a mere glimpse of this tree
What sort of friend it might someday be.

It was one May day in the afternoon, that finally appeared its first bloom—
a delicate pinkish glow.
Day upon day, in ecstasies, raising its heart to its Maker,
Its arms to the dancing blue and its eyes to snow-capped heights,
And toes deep clinging to the prairie soil,
It grew—a radiant Peach Tree—in tender tones singing
The mystery of spring, the beauty of love,
‘Til everyone could know,
The joy of a peach tree aglow.
Though warmed by the sun, day after day,
No fruit did this peach tree show.

So autumn and Winter came its way, to strengthen,

to rouse its deep slumber,
Then springtime again, and buds without number,
And summer once more—
With a glimpse of a Pine Tree, stately and somber,
Ever-living, you know—
Its leaves shed again, with arms holding warm flakes,
A tinge deep within, beneath the snow,
Where the roots of the peach tree continued to grow.

In early spring, a deeper and stronger glow,
Did the peach tree show—
A Sanctuary Lamp—
But days and days of clouded sun and breezes damp
Retarded its warmth and arrested its bloom—
Touching the Pine tree, too—
And then, another winter…
Biting and frosting its earliest spring bud…

(1929)
Though this poem is undated, it is written in ink (a different ink) in mom’s note book on a page following a 1929 poem (Little Burgler) and preceding a 1945 poem (Perspective). Since its setting is Minnesota (“Land of the Sky Blue Waters”) and it refers to the “prairie soil” and a severe winter, “biting and frosting the earliest bud,” I suspect this was written while she was still in Minnesota, probably 1929. The poem is incomplete, ending abruptly and having only a few corrections on the original, but its theme is unmistakably one of mom’s favorite: the close attention and reverence for nature, for the seasons, for weather, for warm sunshine and biting winters, and for how all this reflects God’s power and is, in fact, a tribute to His Majesty (“The Maker”). It reflects mom’s strong connection to the land (having grown up on a prairie farm) and her religious faith, both of which are intertwined and central to her identity, to how she defines herself and the world around her. Her technique of using physical descriptions of nature as objective correlatives for spiritual reflection is a technique used by professional poets, including Robert Frost, a poet of New England, whom I’m sure she studied.

Another theme that reflects mom’s deep sense of awe and acceptance of struggle is the fact that the Peach Tree never really bears fruit, is thwarted from realizing its true potential by the severity (and the sheer arbitrariness!) of the weather: “another winter biting and frosting its earliest springtime bud”…days and days of clouded sun and breezes damp retarded its warmth and arrested its bloom.” This is the realism of someone who understands the harsh nature of life, who as the daughter of a farmer, has seen her father and mother worry (and suffer?) over many winters and springs and disappointing harvests. Though the poem begins with optimism and a romantic view of the tree, even personifying it (“What sort of friend it might someday be”), it progresses through a series of disappointments and ends abruptly in defeat, the bud succumbing again to “another winter biting and frosting.”

All of us know and love mom for her inner strength, love, goodness and compassion. This fragment reveals that long before she ever married dad, had nine children and was forced to constantly struggle to make ends meet and to move from place to place, she forged her character and sense of life’s harshness during the cold winters with her brothers and sisters on the farm in Heron Lake. Hers was a deep faith and devotion forged through struggle. She did not deny or distort reality, but understood and embraced it for what it was: seasonal, mysterious, sometimes bitter, always hopeful. For her, it was always possible that “next spring the Peach Tree might bloom!” I will never forget that look of strength, acceptance and calm on her face as we all greeted her at the airport when she returned from Minnesota after dad’s sudden death. She had felt it before—“winter biting and frosting spring’s earliest bud…”


This post first appeared on Inspirational Poems Of A Prairie Girl, please read the originial post: here

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The Mystery of Spring

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