Verdure

Yesterday Laurel looked out the window and asked, “Why is the grass green, Mommy?”

I gave her the good homeschool mom answer, “Chlorophyll.”

“Huh?” she said.  “No, really, why is the grass green?”

As much as I liked biology, I never was good at botany.  I knew that wasn’t really the answer she was looking for anyway.  At seven, I don’t think she was asking about the cellular make-up of plants.  I stood with her and looked out the window.

“See, Mommy?  It’s really green.”

I studied the view of our backyard.  Spring was finally making an appearance in upstate New York.  This had been a long winter.  Once the snow was off the lawn, it still had that faded-green-tinged-with-mud-brown look to it.  But yesterday, for the first time, you could see the new growth that was Spring.

I was thinking about that conversation this morning when I was reading in Isaiah.  Isaiah 15 is describing the devastation of Moab, and verse 6 says this, “the grass is withered, the new growth fails, the verdure is no more.”  I use a Revised Standard Version Bible, but I love to look up verses in other versions just to compare.  The King James says, “…there is no green thing.”  Verdure is so much more descriptive.

        ver·dure  [vur-jer] –noun

1. greenness, especially of fresh, flourishing vegetation.

2. green vegetation, especially grass or herbage.

3. freshness in general; flourishing condition; vigor.

That rich green, that verdure, that Laurel had noticed was Spring.

My mother loved spring and summer.  She had beautiful flower beds in front of the house.  Backed by an old split-rail fence, they were the stuff of calendar pictures and post cards.  Occasionally people would stop to photograph them, and they were painted by at least one local artist.

This would be the time of year when we would get back from our Myrtle Beach vacation and she would begin the process of clearing out the perennial beds and buying annuals for various planters.  It was a very common sight to see her working at all hours of the day, bending over and weeding those flowers.

Even though the flower beds are now overgrown from neglect, my mother’s love for flowers has not disappeared.  The other day my mother was talking about how she needed to go run errands. I could tell my father was frustrated with his inability to reason with her and find out what exactly she wanted to do.  I offered to take her for a ride in the car.

When we reached the end of the road, I didn’t turn in the direction of the village.

“Oh, you’re going this way?” she said questioningly.

“We’re going to Carefree Gardens.  Isn’t that where you wanted to go?” I replied, the fiblet sliding out so easily.  She had not said where she wanted to go, and up until the moment we reached the turn, I didn’t really know where I was going either.  I saw the sign and made the turn.  Carefree Gardens is a wonderful nursery that is one of my mother’s favorite places.

“That’s right,” she said.  “I need to get some flowers for my mother.”

When we pulled in, we could see that the greenhouse was full of pansies, her favorite.  She wandered among the plants, choosing  a few that she “needed.”  Laurel and I also wandered around the greenhouse, enjoying the warmth and beauty of so many flowers.

When we got back home, she was content again.  An outing, especially an outing to a place she so enjoys, tends to reset her sun-downing irritability.

So this morning I was thinking about all these things.  About the green grass.  About the cheerful pansies.  About the verse in Isaiah where God paints such a bleak picture because all that simple beauty is missing.

My least favorite time of year is late winter/early spring.  The snow is no longer gloriously white and brilliant, but rather, ugly shades of gray and generally drab.  The trees are still stark and bare.  Even those of us who love winter grow tired of the cold and the wet.   Mud is everywhere.  Nothing is pretty… until…. we catch sight of a little color, a crocus or a snowdrop bravely poking its head through the winter-spring mess.  Then come the daffodils that laugh at the winter and assure us that spring and summer are coming.

I can’t wait for the daffodils.  Such a symbol of hope!

The joy and hope that Springtime brings us is a treasure.  I love that this is something I can still share with my mother.

One of my favorite Bible verses is Lamentations 3:21-23.

“But this one thing I bear in mind and therefore I have hope:

 The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases;

His mercies never come to an end;

They are new every morning;

Great is thy faithfulness.”

Like my green grass, like my crocuses, like my mother’s pansies, like the daffodils,  God’s love and mercy is new.  Every morning we can see it and experience it.  Great is His faithfulness!


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