When Spring Is Hard, Here’s How To Keep Growing

spring on the farm
early spring on the farm

Spring is a burst of inspiration.

The early mornings and lengthening days have us waking earlier and more energized.  

Like a seed ready to sprout, a flower ready to bloom, we stretch across the landscape again, fill the greenhouse with seedlings, pull straw from the garlic, turn garden beds for the first time in months.

We’re not so different from plants.  Coming out of winter’s rest, starting to unfurl in the sun of spring, the energy of the season inviting us to grow.

On the edges of the fields maple trees are flowering, their branches tinted red, while willows burst in yellow and alders open in green.

And yet…

For all its inspiration, rebirth, and growth, spring brings with it muddy and rutted roads, floods, doubt, frustration, challenge.

A therapist friend told Edge that she sees depression at its worst in spring.  

It surprised me, but then I thought of myself.  How anxiety has been rising in my chest again. So much to do.  So many others seemingly so far ahead of where I am. And for all that extra sunlight, there’s not enough to finish everything in a day, and I’m tired.

Spring brings its own friction. Visible contradictions.

Tulips, crocuses, daffodils blooming.  Leaves unfurling. Fields trading the ochre of fall for bright green grass.

It all seems so effortless.  It seems like everyone is smiling, shedding layers, re-emerging fresh into a new landscape.

And yet…

Dirt roads turn to mud and ruts.  Rivers breach and flood.

There are days I bottom out in the mud.  Days I don’t know if I can withstand the river’s current.

Days when I look around and see only the piles of detritus that had been hidden beneath snow, now re-emerging, too, asking: when are you going to clean me up?  When are you going to deal with me?

Spring on the farm
spring on the farm: a makeshift boardwalk where it’s too wet to walk

This is what we don’t say about spring, about birth: that’s it’s soft and hard.  Miraculous and impossible.

That even in spring, we must let go if we’re to move forward.

If you’re feeling this, too, you’re not alone.  

If you find yourself looking at others and comparing yourself to them, wondering why it’s easy for them and hard for you, you’re not alone.

I get caught in anxiety and comparison and unrealistic expectations, too.  I get caught looking at Instagram and assuming a perfect story for everyone but me.  

The only perfect story is the one you’re present for.  

Pick your eyes up and look at the land around you.  Turn your face from social media and look at the red-winged blackbird perched on the fencepost, calling out conk-la-ree!

Let the rushing melt of the brook wash through your mind.  Give way to the unknowable messiness of spring.

Then come to your work one piece at a time.  

Clean up the garden trays, fill your car with last season’s trash and drive to the dump.  Sow new crops.

Accept that you’re the beginning.  No matter how much you harvested last year, here you are: packets of seeds, potting soil, starting again.

It doesn’t have to happen all at once.  

Just one seed at a time, rooting in, growing towards summer.

4 thoughts on “When Spring Is Hard, Here’s How To Keep Growing”

    1. Hey Allison, you’re not alone! Sending you lots of love. Remember, it’s all just one seed at a time. ?

  1. Hi Kate,

    Thank you so much. Charles and I read this aloud with our morning cup of coffee. We have been feeling so stressed, and even my depression and mood swings have been harder to deal with. It is a very strange tension of feeling totally stuck and yet bursting with the desire to create. Its almost like, you’re ready to bloom fully, but nature is holding you back. And that can be a really challenging place. We really appreciated this, you are such a beautiful writer. The honesty and truth is so delightful to hear and hold on to. It is refreshing to know we are not alone!


    1. Hey Lydia, that is absolutely a challenging place to be. Keep taking it one step at a time. And come over for tea if you need a break!

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