(listening time: 6:37 minutes)
Silvery green leaves of an unfamiliar shrub call me off the trail on this late-April morning.
As I approach the young leaves for a closer look, I hear the words “the tenderness of new beginnings.” Although a few leaves have opened and hold droplets of yesterday’s rain, most are still folded along their central vein. They seem both vulnerable and full of possibility.
I return to these words, and leaves, again and again as Asha and I walk.
I’ve been in transition. Six months ago, back in November, I closed my weaving business, Whimsy & Tea, in order to make room for the next iteration of my work and calling. Even though I knew it was time to close, it was still a loss.
Over the winter, I gifted myself spaciousness to grieve. I turned inward. I reflected on all that I learned from Whimsy & Tea and on the ways weaving changed me. I walked, wrote and waited.
And the seasons turned.
On the spring equinox in March I was surprised to realize that I didn’t feel ready for spring. I knew I’d exclaim over Bloodroot and Little Bluets and opening tree buds and yet I wanted to linger in the more introverted, internal cozy energy of winter. I wasn’t ready to meet the energy of unfurling, unfolding, opening, emerging.
Given how much I like spring, I was unsettled by the disconnect I felt between what was happening (or about to happen) in the woods and what was (or, perhaps more accurately, wasn’t) happening inside me. I knew I needed to pay attention.
So as I walk on this late-April morning, I think about how these leaves, magical though they are, didn’t appear out of thin air. The shrub prepared for this season’s growth last summer or fall by wrapping preformed leaves in protective bud scales for the winter. I follow that thought back through the seasons and years, back to when the shrub took root and then to the parent shrub and back and back.
And I see that while spring is a beginning, it’s also a continuation.
Then there’s the delicate issue of timing.
These leaf buds didn’t open until the conditions, the light and/or temperature, were right for this shrub in this location. And those are different for Sugar Maples whose yellow-green flowers, hanging like chandeliers from branches and twigs, stop me in my tracks. At this point in the spring Blunt-lobed Hepatica flowers along this trail have faded, Trailing Arbutus is blooming and soon I’ll be looking for bright fuchsia Fringed Polygala. Each plant developing at their own pace, in their own time, and gracing the woods with beauty throughout the seasons.
What if, I ask myself, inspired by the leaves of this unfamiliar shrub, my work is unfolding at just the right pace? What if I trust the process and remain curious?
I’ve been approaching this next iteration of my work differently than I have in the past. I’m listening carefully and allowing the next steps to arise from within and lead me. My process isn’t like planting Wild Columbine and anticipating long-spurred red-and-yellow flowers in May. It’s more like noticing silvery green leaves of an unfamiliar shrub who will reveal more with time and growth.
I may not know what is unfolding, but I do know it is both a continuation and something new.
My winter reflections helped me see how Whimsy & Tea held the seeds for Walks with Asha. How the lessons I learned at the loom, how the themes I wrote about in Whimsy-grams continue and deepen as I walk in the woods. How both Whimsy & Tea and Walks with Asha are part of a larger unfolding of my life.
And so, on this late-April walk, I return to the tenderness of new beginnings – with an emphasis on tenderness.
Even with all the energy and excitement of flowers, leaves, ferns, sedges pushing through dry leaves and soil, bursting from buds and turning the landscape green dotted with shades of yellow, purple and red, this is a tender time: a late frost could damage young growth.
I want to be mindful of my impatience and not force this next iteration to bloom before it’s ready.
I know something is unfolding. Even if I don’t know exactly what.
It will likely require me to peel away protective layers of comfort and to take risks.
It feels scary.
I hear the shrub telling me to meet myself with tenderness, with softness. To not push or rush the unfolding. And assuring me that when the time and conditions are right, my work will experience its own spring.
Walks with Asha stories often start in conversations with members of a coaching group I belong to. I want to acknowledge, with so much gratitude, Lissa, Maggie, Peggy, Amy and Helen, as well as to Debora and Adel, for their supportive listening, perceptive questions and comments, deepening my understandings and helping me express them.
Photo © Arthur Haines, Native Plant Trust