Editor's Note: Signs of Spring

Angie Ripple

Spring flowers have pushed their cheerful heads through the earth and up through the dry leaves to peek at the sunshine and bring smiles to the humans that tend them. Spring in Bozeman is part sunny day sprinkled with snow flurries, and then again, another hour or so of sunshine. Our snowglobe slowly fades away as spring takes hold, but just five minutes from now the weather could change. Snow in July is not uncommon in Southwest Montana, but we hope for a reprieve as we tend our perennials and prepare our gardens for another harvest.

Last May, just a couple of months into the pandemic, I spent as much time in my garden space as possible, raking, rearranging, cleaning up the rectangular plot along the south side of my house that would become my quarantine corner and my refuge. The year before, I had created a flower garden outside my bedroom window full of mostly pink and purple perennials that began filling in for friends I wouldn’t be seeing for months. As spring turned to summer, I photographed my flower friends close up, finding details I may have missed if I hadn’t slowed down to look closer, details that surprised and delighted me, that broadcast the intricacies of nature and its beauty.

The ground is still not ready for delicate plants in the Rocky Mountain West until late May, sometimes even into June. We can hang our baskets of petunias but must store them many nights in our garage or entryway to keep them safe from frost. We can harden our tomato plants little by little until the nights are warm enough to keep them strong and ready to produce red, juicy goodness. Lilacs will be blooming soon, and the scent will fill my neighborhood as we walk our dogs and follow our children’s scooter tracks.

Spring in Montana is fleeting, but the rebirth of perennials planted by those who came before us is a sign that things will return, maybe not to the life we lived before, but to something we create together moving forward. The stars within a tiny head of a zinnia that will sprout later this summer will remind me to keep growing, keep rising to meet the sunshine and keep beauty and nature close.


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