flowers starting amid grass

The Vagaries of Spring in Michigan

 May 11, 2022

I’ve lived in Michigan all my life. I’m well aware of the vagaries of spring in Michigan. And yet, every spring I struggle just the same.

The calendar says spring starts March 20. We all know the lie in this. There is still snow yet to fall, even a late March or early April snowstorm. Even May can’t be relied on for consistent warm weather. A week of unseasonably warm weather like we are having now, may give way to a week of cold and killing frost, as many have learned the hard way.

Previous Springs

I remember a Mother’s Day many years ago. Our church’s DRE (Director of Religious Education) had the children plant flowers all around the church. I thought to myself, surely, it’s not safe to plant annuals until Memorial Day. There’s always a risk of a killing frost before then.

But who was I to say anything? This woman had far more experience with gardens than I did. Certainly, she knew what she was doing?

Even with her years of experience, she had succumbed to the vagaries of spring in Michigan. The church was beautiful for Mother’s Day with all of the flowers. By the next weekend most were gone, killed by frost.

Walking around my neighborhood this week, I noticed one such bed of flowers, colorful petunias and other annuals decorating a neighbor’s yard. Would their fate be the same as the flowers at the church?

Vagaries of Spring in Michigan

I know this, and yet every year, along with so many Michiganders, the minute the weather turns warm, I’m eager to go out in my yard and plant annuals and drape my clothes line poles with hanging baskets. My head says, no, wait until Memorial Day. My heart and gut say, we want flowers and we want them now.

And so, like so many, I sometimes give into my heart and take the risk only to have to cover tender flowers and bring baskets inside amid the threat of frost.

Why Can’t We Wait?

Why is it so hard to wait? With modern technology and green houses, we are used to having beautiful flowers all year long. But we’ve yet to control the seasons. Maybe that’s why. We still want the illusion of control. Or maybe we are just so desperate to be outside after the cold months of winter that we are ready to discard reason, put on shorts and flipflops and head to the local greenhouse for flowers that have been forced to bloom early.

Despite all of our efforts, all we’ve learned, we still haven’t accepted that God is in charge. Not only that, it’s better that way. If we were in charge of the weather, who would decide what is best for everyone? Certainly not our government leaders. Farmers might argue for rain, while couples being married in outdoor weddings would vie for a sunny day.

Yet another reason why it’s best that God is in control. Still, I find it hard to wait till Memorial Day . . .

What about you? How do you deal with arguments between your head, your heart and your gut? How do you deal with the vagaries of the weather? Do you welcome them as a gift from God, or complain? I’d love to hear from you.


In the Lord’s Garden

Speaking of Gardens – my latest book, In the Lord’s Garden: A Guide for Ministry, is now available in e-format and paperback. A great gift for any new ministry graduates this spring. Or a gift for pastoral staff at your church.

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