Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Spring Snow

When I was quite young, I had a vivid, colorful dream. (Yes, many of us do dream in color.)  I stepped into the backyard, which was exactly as our yard was at the time, and it was covered in snow. Growing up in Central Illinois, that doesn't seem like a rare thing to dream. However, this snow was warm. And it was colorful, all different colors. It was deep, as well, enough to create nice warm caves or snowmen. But warm. I was absolutely in heaven. I always loved playing in the snow, except that I hated to be cold. I still hate to be cold, and I'm cold very easily. It felt like a magnificent gift.

That dream, more than any other, stayed with me through the years. It meant something. I couldn't tell what it might mean, but it meant something, down deep within my soul.

Fast forward through years of finishing school, marriage, moving, kids, more moving... and then eleven years ago, we chose a place to "retire" (retiring to us meant to stop moving every few years and creating an actual home base). We randomly chose western Pennsylvania. I say randomly because we had no family or friends here. We'd driven through a few times in our travels, but there was not real connection that could be quantified. I was set, though, on this area. It called out to me.

Yes, some of my ancestors did come from PA. A great aunt lived in another part of the state and I remember that visit with all of the gorgeous trees and the green everywhere you looked. There are those memories. But something deeper called me here.

I'll say now that spring is my favorite season. Despite the fact I'm allergic to everything that comes to life in spring, I still love seeing it come to life. I love the spring color: forsythias, daffodils, tulips, azaleas, red buds, dogwoods... every color under the sun everywhere you look. All mixed together. And, of course, the magnolias.

We moved here in the fall as my youngest was starting high school, after my oldest had just graduated. So, many of the plantings in the large yard of the house we bought were dormant. That next spring, to my delight, the small tree I could see from my office window turned out to be a magnolia, just like the one outside my grandma's front window that I always loved, for its artistry and its magnificent big blooms that appeared before the leaves filled in and joined the painting.

It felt like a message from Grandma, an I'm still with you sign. By the time we moved here, we'd already lost her to dementia. That was a hard blow. I was Grandma's Girl, always had been. I didn't see her often in those last years since I was always out and away, but she wrote letters, with little drawings for my daughter -- she was always drawing cute little animals and such, and did some painting, as well -- and I sent photos of my babies and where we were, telling her about our temporary homes. (Never underestimate the power of a hand-written and mailed letter!)

Almost exactly a month after we settled here, Grandma moved on up over the rainbow (one of her favorite songs). The kids and I drove back to IL to say our goodbyes. To me, there was a certain peacefulness about it, because I felt she was finally free from the body that had shut her down and pulled her spirit down. She was too vibrant to be held back.

She was born in May, 101 years ago.

Every year when the magnolia blooms, I say hello to her again. I feel like she led me here, to this place, this house, with its magnolia and lilacs.

And then there's the spring snow. Never, anywhere else I've lived, have I seen dandelion snow. Every May, our yard is absolutely filled with dandelion/thistle seeds that looks exactly like big, warm snowflakes. It even gathers along the edge of the driveway like small snowdrifts. My daughter, who has just moved back here after her own wandering years, says they're not getting much of it in town. So, a few miles down the road, and I would miss it.

There's a reason I'm here. Not only here as a general being alive thing, but here in the place we "randomly" chose. I don't need to know why. I feel it.

Now to get my brand new magnolia planted, a yellow one for my favorite color, close enough to the other that I can welcome their blooms together every spring.

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