or Skeletons in the Closet
A few years ago I was hanging out with an international group of friends, trading favorite figures of speech and laughing at the way the idioms translated into our different languages. Somehow the phrase "fixin' to" came up, and I can still see the delight on one friend's face—his joy at this manner of saying that no, you're not doing anything yet, but you might be at any time; that while you may look idle, you're actually working on thinking about getting ready to accomplish something. Soon(ish).
Of course, it's a lot more fun being the one who's fixin' to do something than the one waiting for it to happen. Right now, when winter is fixin' to head for another hemisphere and spring is fixin' to arrive, there's a lot of anticipation floating around without anything to attach itself to. It's actually one of my favorite times of year, despite how painful the suspense can become. Every day the excitement builds, and some tiny but significant change rewards your vigil—a twig that's come to life with richer color, a bud that's opened up a hairline fracture in a bleary, Monday-morning peek at the world, a single leaf flaunting its green enthusiasm amid the skeletons of winter.
Make no mistake: those skeletons still predominate, old snake-skin remnants of the previous year—the trimmed stalks and leaf-mulch, the sprawling dead growth on plants that still need cushioned against frost, the bare earth where the mulch has blown away. This is actually the one time of year when I'm embarrassed to have people see the garden, as if all those skeletons are skeletons in the closet—as if this phase of transition is something to hide from all but the most tolerant eyes.
And yet, the vestiges of winter have their beauty, too—a decomposing leaf with its warp and woof unraveling, a study of tensile strength and fragility; the haphazard palisades of tarragon stalks, protecting tender new growth; the paisley swirls of dried leaves punctuated by dots of green.
I will not miss winter when it goes, but despite the suspense and the eager wait for greenery and blossoms, I may as well enjoy it while it stays. To try to see winter beauty on spring terms is to miss it altogether—almost as pointless as berating winter because it hasn't yet yielded to spring.
After all, it's fixin' to.