Danny Heitman’s “At Random”: Spring arrives on schedule of its own

In my early days of home ownership, I thought of our lawn as a single object — a great, green rug that just happened to be out in the yard rather than in the living room. But the arrival of another spring reminds me that a lawn is not one thing but many things — a web of plants that doesn’t always appear to act with a single mind. I can look out the window this week, for example, and see that not all the parts of the lawn are waking up at the same time. The turf is green and shaggy in some spots, brown and bare in others. It looks like a shorn sheep that’s regrowing its wool unevenly, a patchwork of paucity and fullness.

In the great election of creation that affirms the turning of the seasons, a great deal of my yard counts itself as undecided.

If I’m inclined to think of spring’s arrival as a kind of campaign — one in which a million living things have to cast approval for the season to take its seat — then perhaps it’s because I’ve come to see that simply decreeing spring won’t make the winter go.

This week’s official calendar declared the formal start of spring on Thursday, but the seasons usually don’t read the schedules we try to write for them. The week started blustery and cold — so chilly, in fact, that I buried myself in a parka for Monday’s morning walk. Our heavy coats continue to hang near the door, as solemn as bear pelts strung up to cure. March now moderates, with more warm days than brisk ones, and soon our hooks will hold swimming goggles and beach towels rather than winter gear. But we’re not quite ready to pack away the wardrobe of February just yet.

In this way, I count myself in the uncommitted column when it comes to embracing spring. Maybe I’m just not ready for it.

The growing power of the sun pleases me, of course. But I also know that spring brings much to do. Parting the bedroom curtains each morning, I notice with relief that the landscape grows brighter by the day. The Japanese magnolia near the fence is a riot of purple, like the starburst of a fireworks display. But I also see that the brick patio is slick with lichen. It will have to be bleached and scrubbed and hosed, our way of setting the table for barbecue season out of doors.

We replaced a rotted window sill last week and the new wood needs painting, and that simple chore, I know, will point us toward more painting, pruning, and picking up around the place.

The other morning, I spotted our neighbors taking down their carnival wreaths, and their door is bare now, at least until Easter, when some decorations the color of egg dye will shake us awake with the news of resurrection.

But we’re in the in-between days till then, and some of us remain on the fence about whether to greet spring with open arms. Maybe I should fetch the trowel and hoe from the shed today, and help make a place for April in the neighborhood.