Tender Is the Grass

Is it possible? Has spring finally arrived? After this bitter cold, seemingly endless winter, it’s hard to trust. But the signs are visible.

Sunday. Sunny, 55 degrees. The Red Sox opened at Fenway on Friday (Never mind that the Brewers swept the three-game weekend series—we’re just getting started, and Ortiz is still wearing a Boston uniform.)

Crocus_4-6-14As I walked Ginger round the block Sunday afternoon, I noticed tender green grass shoots peeping through thatch. Purple and fuchsia crocuses yawned on the sunny side of the street. Even in our shaded back yard, one lavender bud had valiantly pushed its way toward light.

At last. It’s the second week of April, and the forsythias are not yet aglow. But the sun is brighter, the sky, bluer, and only about a foot remains of the last, stubborn, dirty pile of snow out back.

It’s the season of promise and not-quite-there-yet.

Neighbors walk by in jackets and sunglasses. Around the corner, kids’ bikes litter a front lawn. On my route with Ginger, I reluctantly wear my mid-weight winter coat, insulated gloves and wool hat. It may be well above freezing, but 55 is still chilly for me and my Raynaud’s. My finger ulcers are finicky in the spring and need protection and mindful nursing. It will have to get into the mid-60’s before I can switch to a shorter wool coat, high 60’s or even low 70’s before I can send my winter sweaters to the dry cleaner and go without gloves.

I’m also still tending my light-sensitive eyes in the wake of complications from conjunctivitis. The infection of two weeks ago has cleared, but an allergic reaction to the eye drops left me with mild corneal abrasions in both eyes that required more medication. I can now look at my computer screen without discomfort, but reading and sunlight remain tiring. It is just never simple with scleroderma and, in my case, the added complication of Sjogren’s, which renders my eyes, nose and mouth too dry to begin with.

I’ve been extremely frustrated about this over the past week. Writing and reading are such a huge part of my work and daily pleasures that my struggles with vision have been both aggravating and frightening. Why did something as mundane as conjunctivitis have to turn into such an ordeal? What if my vision doesn’t return to normal? How long will this last? Do I always have to get an infection of one sort or another when I travel?

For all these reasons, Sunday’s promise was most appreciated. Those bright green sprigs of grass, the joyful crocus blooms, the barely visible buds on tree branches—just knowing that baseball bats are smacking over home plate once again, whoever wins—all remind me that winter really does end, even in New England.

I will retire my down coats and wool sweaters and don rayon and cotton once again. The days will continue to get warmer, on average, and longer. Leaves will unfurl and shade the street. My eyes will fully heal.

And, if we’re really lucky, the Sox will bring home another World Series championship this season. Welcome back, spring.

Evelyn Herwitz blogs weekly about living fully with chronic disease, the inside of baseballs, turtles and frogs, J.S. Bach, the meaning of life and whatever else she happens to be thinking about at livingwithscleroderma.com

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