Forget winter today and welcome spring

It was a long time ago that I taught in Canada, and it’s hard to imagine that some of my high school students are now “retired.”
But every now and then, I remember with nostalgia those four years. Fun-filled and frightening at the same time.
Simply put, I felt too young and too inexperienced to face a full classroom of students who had come through a semi-British system of rigorous education–some of whom were undoubtedly better prepared to teach than I was.
But on the other hand, I was also close enough to their age to have a wonderful time and keep many students as long-term friends.
I remember walking through The Rockery, past the waterfall and through the daffodils, on my way to school each morning. Learning to know new people. A new community and a new country. Visiting students’ homes on weekends.
Skating when there was ice and sometimes having snowball fights. Loving each season as it came and missing it as it went. And I’ve never been quite sure why I didn’t just stay and live out my life in that wonderful setting.
I especially loved teaching Grade 10 English, and one of my favourite things to teach was a poem called “Putting Winter to Bed” by Canadian poet Edwin John Pratt.
By some standards, “Putting Winter to Bed” might not be called a great poem. But that doesn’t matter for it speaks to the soul and I still remember it more than four decades later.
Anytime you’re close to the 49th parallel, you understand winter better than you do here in the middle of the United States. And most of the time, you learn to both love winter and hate it simultaneously.
In the poem, it’s easy to identify with March as she tries to dethrone “the lord of ice and snow.” She hits again and again–both with soft breezes and with strong winds. And sometimes with anger, for it’s time to move on.
But Old Winter doesn’t think so. He thumps his chest and slaps his thighs. And grinds his Arctic heel into the ground. He’s not giving in to spring. Not just yet!
You don’t have to read the poem to know that, of course, March eventually wins and April takes over.
But then in the gentlest of gestures, the two lightly tuck King Winter in bed with a light blanket of snow and make him promise not to return until the lights are on the Christmas trees.
That’s the way it always is in life. Winter comes, and winter goes. Spring follows and then gives way to summer. The progression of nature is as sure as death and taxes. And no one should take it lightly.
For the passing of the seasons is the passing of your life. And what you do with each season will, in the end, tell the story of who you are and who you have been.
So what will you do with this year’s spring? What gardens will you plant? What friends will you walk with? What flowers will you share? What laughter and sunshine will you spread?
More than likely you’ll get to have another spring. But just in case you don’t sometime, it really won’t matter if you’ve made the most of this one.
The seasons are meant to be lived and enjoyed.

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