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February 12, 2005
I thought there might be daffodils in bloom here in North Carolina, and there are. Ours began to come up a few weeks ago during a warm spell and then received a dump of snow: they're under there somewhere, waiting patiently for another chance.

I thought I might hear the songbirds we're missing up there, and I did: one gave me a holler as I walked past the window in the wee hours. Actually, of course, I know he wasn't really talking to me: down here, it is spring, when a young man's fancy lightly turns to thoughts of love. He just wants to get married.

I am excited to see the flowers, hear the birds. It means spring will come to us up north soon, too. We cannot complain: this winter has not been a particularly hard one, but it is mid-February, time to think of sun, of longer days, of the earthworms at work underground, readying the soil. Soon it will be there as it is here: soft, warm, greener and lovelier every day.

The people are soft and warm here, too: friendly, happy to be together and not ashamed to say so. Their speech is softer than ours, and more fun; North Carolinians have more syllables than other people: "here" and "hill" and "real" are all two-syllable words. How nice, I think, listening to them talk, and wonder, as I always do, why we all speak so quickly up north. What's the rush? I ask myself, and I can never come up with much of an answer.

Just about everybody goes to church. Well, it's the Bible Belt, somebody laughs, and everyone smiles. That phase has come to carry associations of narrow-mindedness and bigotry, but it need not be so: a culture soaked in faithfulness, a society in which people expect to turn to God for help -- there are worse things we could do. We'll have our religion the way we have everything else in life: if we are narrow-minded and bigoted, our faith will be, too, and we'll tell people it's all in scripture, just like that, case closed. But if we are openhearted and trusting, we will find ample support for that posture in our Bibles, too. Soft and green, we will be if we choose to be, like the first shoots of flowers rising toward the sun.
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