Ireland’s goddess Brigid, patroness of practicalities such as farming, infants, and dairy labors, is associated with Spring and also poetry. And why not? How many metaphors are woven into the season, how rich with avenues that lead from the physical world into the realm of myth.
Somewhere in history the goddess Brigid morphs into St Brigid in a merger of Christian and Celt practices. Interesting that in the fifth century AD there was much blending of faiths, as though it was not entirely an either/or adherence but an and. Celtic tradition created bridges between the church and the countryside, their seasonal prayers and rhythms finding their way into Anglican liturgy. Ancient peoples relied upon the land, they offer us indigenous gifts in a subtle blending; the presence of Celtic crosses, the presence of the Christ in the land itself, and a call in this urbanized world, to an ecologically connected spirituality.
A long-haired boy on a tractor tills the farm down the road from me. His toddler son sits beside him, cheeks flushed, bonnet pulled down, and doing a pat-a-cake with the wind. The boy’s pony tail flies out behind him as he breaks ground for the grapes he hopes to harvest, his new winery. He is keeping something alive here, adapting the land that grew food a century ago, preserving it, teaching his boy the cycles they will live by.
As for me, the vernal equinox approaches along with Easter and it is time to gather seeds. I will go out with a hoe and several packets of peppy names like Golden Boy and Queeny Orange. I will go out as I did last year, down the same path, not because I have great success with my plants but because it is time. Scripturally, (and I wish this received more attention), Christ first appears after his death disguised as a gardener and he appears to a woman. Let that be the vision that calls us to don our grubbiest dresses, put our hands in soil, tend it fiercely.
Spring planting is habit
bestowed, a woman walking
at dusk to her garden, hat brim
frayed in fingerprints,
grass worn in testament
to the usefulness of paths in life.
I’ll go out again, seeds and hoe
as I went last year, as I was taught—
to break ground in silence,
letting corn tassels spark in sun,
pole beans and squash
left to their quirks, trailing as they
please in serpentine rows. Knowing
the shapes they can become,
I’ll wish even in ripening, for straighter
certainties. My hands push
soil, rooting down to the first
grandmother in this country,
nameless with vines I’ve let stretch
under a lazy sun, fresh
nubs on last season’s stalks;
shoots tendered from wintering
limbs, new green growth
that comes on top of old. When we say
grace later, we mean this.
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