Two days ago, only a few piles of snow remained in our yard and I was thrilled at the prospect of being able to play outside without having to bundle up in full snow gear. We even spent some time creating chalk art in the driveway in the late morning sun. It was positively lovely. Today, we have 16" of fresh snow on the ground. Maybe more. UGH. Actually, it really is beautiful and I was happy my husband got a snow day out of the deal, but I still can't stop dreaming about warmer days. That one day last week gave me the slightest taste of the sweet spring I know lies ahead (hopefully sooner rather than later. You'd better not be lying to me, Groundhog!)
Julie Fogliano's and then it's spring captures exactly how I feel every year around this time. "First you have brown, all around you have brown." Then comes the planting of the seeds and the wish for rain -- and then the rain! -- until the brown becomes a "hopeful, very possible sort of brown." Caldecott winner Erin E. Stead's gorgeous illustrations are the perfect accompaniment to Fogliano's text: gentle, sweet, and remarkably expressive for work so seemingly simple at first glance. We follow the young boy as he plants his seeds and anxiously waits for them to grow, worrying about whether perhaps the birds got to them, or the bears. Most pages have just a line or two of text, with the exception of perhaps my favorite page that captures a child's thinking so beautifully. "...maybe it was the bears and all that stomping, because bears can't read signs that say things like "please do not stomp here -- there are seeds and they are trying." The young boy's anticipation is captured perfectly throughout the story, and I can't help but feel it, too. When will that magical day arrive when we wake to find green? It's the same way every year, just as Fogliano describes. We are surrounded by brown -- the grass, the old leaves that escaped the rakes of the previous fall -- and then suddenly, it happens! The trees come alive and the leaves jump out and everywhere there is green. This is a sweet, beautiful story that makes a wonderful bedtime read, especially at this time of year. I love its message of patience and the way it beckons us to slow down, go outside, plant some seeds, and take time to soak in the beauty of the natural world around us. Our poor bulbs and seeds might be buried under a blanket of snow, but I know they are waiting, ever so patiently, to come alive with the first signs of spring.