By Monica O’malley-Tavares

Forty years later I can still feel the breeze from the river as it criss-crossed the tide-laden marsh and traveled in waves across the golden grasses of the field. It swirled magically through our neighbor Aurore’s freshly hung laundry, perfuming sheets and work clothes with sea lavender, salty spray, and the unmistakable aroma of springtime.

The seasonal metamorphoses of my childhood come packed with endless delights for the senses, but none can compare with the transition of winter to spring. Well-worn sneakers carried us along muddy paths lined with tangles of wild raspberries and blackberries vines. We eagerly anticipated the fruits that would ripen to satisfy our summer snack needs.

Our springtime adventures took us by Dad as he tended his vegetable seedlings. Butternut squash, green and waxed beans, broccoli, and tomatoes all sat in neatly planted rows or mounds. Sometimes Dad was watering with the garden hose, other times he was weeding in between the young plants. I knew that soon we would be in charge of picking the ripened veggies. Occasionally Mom would make an appearance on the back steps (a welcome reprieve after caring for five children, a husband, and a home, not to mention working full time), giving us a wave as we disappeared under the barn to see the new baby barn swallows or around the back of the house, fully engaged in a neighborhood round of hide-and-seek. The next adventure awaited…

The springtimes of my childhood merge so comfortably with the ones I experience as an adult. They usher hope and new life to the landscape. Ferns unfurl their tender fronds, maples leaf out an emerald coat, dandelions beckon to the pollinators. Our world changes before our eyes, leading us from a snowy winter landscape to a rapidly evolving color wheel. Open windows bring fresh air wafting through our homes, morning dew kisses the newly mowed grass, and nesting birds awaken us as the sun rises.

As I tend my own gardens, the breeze is eager and hopeful, carrying with it childhood memories that have carved the path for a lifetime of springtimes. With each spring I pay homage to one that has come before, and promise to be lighthearted in the face of nature, allowing it to envelop me in its subtle refinement. A handful of daffodils, an unexplored path…the next adventure awaits.

Monica O’Malley-Tavares resides in Mattapoisett where she can be found growing and designing seasonal floral arrangements, freelance writing, and photographing local scenes.