Apr 14

Spring Renewal in Oregon


“Spring has returned. The earth is like a child that knows poems.”  ~ R.M Rilke

Dear Friends,
Spring has definitely returned to Oregon. Every time I turned around I saw another flower in bloom.  I expected daffodils, hyacinths and hellebores, but here tulips were in full bloom, too, unlike in Washington.

On the campus of Williamette University, as we walked along the stream that runs through the courtyard, we walked beneath a shower of cherry blossoms. The night before, we stayed with a friend who lives on a 40 acre homestead in a turn of the century farmhouse outside of Dallas. We walked at dusk in the apple orchard, blossoms sifting down in the wind, then awoke to an explosion of finches in his flowering quince.

Thanks to Lois Rosen, I was invited to teach a workshop on Mindful Writing at Williamette University’s Institute for Continued Learning program. The workshop went well—a lively and diverse group of participants—but I was eager to enjoy the lovely spring afternoon, so after it was over, we walked over to the park/art museum. There we strolled on paths weaving through fields of blue camas, found tulips marching in waves of pastels beneath spreading oak trees. That night, I met with a group of eight of Lois’ friends for more mindful writing, interspersed with mindful eating from a table of delicious desserts, including homemade apple crisp made by Lois and lemon bars made by Jane, a fellow Minnesotan. Together we sat, wrote, ate and shared our writing while white apple blossoms drifted past outside the window.


On Saturday, I returned to the First Unitarian Church of Portland, where Brenda and I had lead a workshop last June.  Ah yes, spring is whimsical—and she made her whimsical presence known by raining as I pulled up to unload the car. Since the focus of our workshop was “Mindful Writing for Spring Renewal,” I hoped we could go outside for walking meditation and writing later in the afternoon. We settled into the classroom around card tables, shared our rituals for spring renewal, remembered that the word “equinox” means “equal”—a balance of light and dark as we move toward solstice—and wrote about how spring might manifest in our own lives.

After the break, the sky lightened, so five of us headed down the street to the park outside the Portland Art Museum in search of tangible signs of spring. I’d suggested practicing “small noticing”—walking until something catches your attention.  Marcia found an immense, gnarled “grandmother” sycamore that had been planted back in the late 1880s, bearing the next generation of ferns. Tom explored the gardens with their new plantings. Susan found a park bench where she could reflect on the rich mix of the natural and human world. I settled down next to one of the garden beds where I could smell the rich, dark soil and wrote about compost, was reminded that in the natural world, nothing is wasted: the detritus of the fall is now nourishing the rose bushes.

I was afraid I’d planned too much for my spring break, but as we drove north on I-5 on Sunday, I felt renewed and refreshed, grateful for time with old friends and new, for the reminder that as the earth renews herself each spring, we have the opportunity to share in this renewal.  May you, too, feel the deep renewal of spring in your lives, the blessing of the earth’s delight, as Rilke said, “like a child that knows poems,” and may you be inspired to write a few poems, too.

Wishing you all the delight that spring brings,