Which season is most full of surprise for you?

For me, spring wins every time. Last week, as I walked along the leafy streets, suddenly I was engulfed in sweet fragrance. It felt as if a shimmering diaphanous stole had been flung over my head and shoulders. What a surprise!

I stopped walking and looked around. There was nothing to be seen but a high hedge and a few small trees. I breathed in the fragrance, gave thanks, and continued my walk.

Then across the road I glimpsed a white magnolia, holding its blooms like delicate chalices up to the sky. Right next to it, a pink cherry blossom puffed itself out, frothing with tiny flowers. The beauty of these two trees, one white and one pink, each graceful in its own fashion, took my breath away.

Five minutes later the sky clouded over and rain began to fall.

And now, as I prepare to send out this newsletter, a southerly chill is sweeping up the country.

Welcome to spring!

How about you?

Do you like to be surprised? I once knew someone who so much hated to be surprised that she insisted on knowing what her birthday present would be in advance.

Surprise can unseat you. Or it can delight.

After the dreary predictability of a wet winter month, now we are in a shift, a quickening of pace. As we move into the glamour of early spring, it’s tempting to reject winter as a tired old garment that needs to be bundled up for the op shop.

Tulips pink against wall


But winter has a gift

An unexpected present reminded me of the value of winter.

My friend brought a pot of plum-coloured tulips, poised on the brink of blooming. I was thrilled, for this year I missed a beat and didn’t buy bulbs to be stored in the back of the fridge for a couple of months, to prepare them for planting. Now I was being gifted the benefit of someone else’s vigilance.

In warm climates such as Auckland, the fridge is necessary to simulate the natural chilling that bulbs would receive in a colder earth.

Why chill?

Because nature insists on a period of dormancy, not just for bulbs, but also for fruit trees and many other plants. Dormancy is a vital part of preparing for growth — or to use the precise term, for vernalization.

What a marvellous word! It means springing into life after dormancy.

And here is the wisdom of nature:

You too need times of dormancy 

You cannot be engaged in inexorable growth all the time. Rhythm is an important part of health: knowing your own cycles of rest, replenishment and growth. And of course the flowering, seeding and return that follow growth.


Have you rested this winter?

Have you dropped into dormancy, the winter sleep, for a time? Sometimes dormancy arrives with a winter virus, sometimes through a loss of energy, and sometimes when you slow down or take a retreat.

This deep rest is a gift of winter. It prepares you for vernalisation.


Take it easy

Are you ready to wake up?

There’s no rush. Take it gently. You may like to begin by noticing the surprises of spring, and the signs of awakening.

As an old Chinese proverb says:

Spring is sooner recognised by plants than by people.


Let nature lead the way.


PS  Look what I found this morning, popping up in the pot of pink tulips! A baby in the middle, newly opening. Another spring surprise!


Tulip white


This post is an excerpt from my Seasons Newsletter. To receive the full Seasons Newsletter, you may sign up on the home page of this website and receive a free audio meditation.