While not bothering to calculate it down to the precise minute, spring is arriving in the northern hemisphere today. I’ll confess that I’ve been in a bit of a funk lately and this winter has been a particularly trying one for a number of reasons. But this is the time when hope springs eternal, plants begin to bloom, love is in the air and all of that romantic nonsense, right? Why not find something pleasant to focus on even in the midst of far too much depressing news.

I’d first like to share with you a column written back in the spring of 2001 (arguably a happier time all the way around) by our friend Andrew Malcolm, back when he was still writing at the Los Angeles Times. It tells the story of one drab black, flat rock on the slopes of the Rocky Mountains which makes a slow, but unstoppable journey down a hillside over the years. The life of a stone may sound uninteresting, but I assure you that it brightened my morning when I read it today.

The point of examining something as humble as a stone in the wilderness is that we can find a positive message almost anywhere we look, assuming one is willing to expend a little mental effort. And you don’t need to be in some rugged, majestic wilderness setting to see it. I still recall the first time I heard a recording of Concrete Blonde singing about such signs showing up in the most dismal city landscapes in their song Roses Grow. Johnette Napolitano really had a way of belting out a tune.

Up through the cracks, Up through the broken glass. In the hot red light of a black and white, Roses grow.

With that in mind, I walked outside with our beagle this morning and looked at the mud and the melting ice left over from the last of three snowstorms we’ve been hit with back to back. It’s not exactly a spring landscape ripped from the pages of a romance novel. But one section of bare dirt where the snow had melted more quickly than the rest happened to be at the edge of a horseradish bed. Sure enough, there was already a plant pushing upward. Granted, it’s not much, but it immediately put me in mind of spring gardening which always cheers me up.

Last autumn I was on my back deck looking at some strawberry plants which we’d kept in pots out there all summer. Their season was well over in terms of bearing fruit, but the plants looked healthy enough. I generally just dump them at the end of the year and grow new ones the following spring, but I decided to bring these four pots inside, take them to my basement and put them under a fluorescent light fixture. I’ve been watering them a few times a week since then, keeping them alive (if not really growing much) so they could have a head start for a new season in the spring. When the beagle and I returned inside, I went downstairs to have a look at them, despite it still being far too cold to move the plants outside. You’ll never guess what I saw. (Look closely in the back right corner.)

Yep. Flowers.

Go out and enjoy the first day of spring. Here’s some Concrete Blonde to see you on your way.