For the past year I have been realigning my dreams to reality, so it seems fitting to welcome this spring with a quieter more introspective cleaning. To facilitate this, I have been walking and observing the subtle changes in Forest Park on foot, day to day.

The long-awaited blooms from the volunteer gardeners along Harvard Street have started to reveal themselves this week, and they are delightful. The canopy of showy pinks and whites of the magnolias, cherries, urban pear trees are out exploding with color. Although rare in some manicured yards, I am delighted (and so will the bees be) by the bright yellow dots of dandelions that are so bright and happy in the green grass.

The years of hard disciplined work that comes from patient, focused leadership at Proviso High Schools is showing through the completion of long neglected physical plant changes that are considerate of students using them and their function for the future of the community. The brave models of change, driven by the community are showing their results. The measured, “trust the process” sweat has brought forth a new day.

Along the Desplaines River, like a secret garden, there have been lots of celebrity birds dropping in. The Kingfisher, wood ducks, blue winged teal, coopers hawk and herons are just some of the sightings. Plus, the active beavers are busy whittling the trees and reorganizing the paths at night, leaving their craft to be seen in the daylight. I have a new- found kinship with the beaver. Just like me, they stay close to home, have been whittling away at projects at night and still have some of the fat layers from winter they are carrying around.

Unfortunately, I don’t always have a glass-half-full view, but inevitably it always comes back to me when it gets lost. Lately I have been struggling to absorb all the pride and suspicion, to absorb that the hate and fear that seems to be present but at arm’s length is now just acceptable. In the wake of hate is ruined relationships and trust.  I know I cannot control what other people think or how they act. I have a small cup for drama, and once it overflows, I walk.

I am walking through my “spring laundry” and working to identify the tulips in the world that are courageous, humble and graceful despite storms of defensiveness and pride. I do not want to be on the team crusading for mistrust, or the team crusading to put people down or the team that is too defensive to respect another point of view. We can make all sorts of predictions, but we cannot foresee how a path might change in a year or two or how deep the Desplaines will be this summer or if there will be another business shutdown from COVID-19.

This spring, I have plenty of laundry to take care of. My circumstances have me staying close to home, focused on my family. Since my boys were little babies in my arms I have imagined and hoped so much about this year, when they would both graduate. The dreams and hopes I had are not playing out the way I thought they would. I can either be patient and measured or be dramatic and emotional. So I walk, looking for the path of being patient and measured, so I have as clear of a path as I can to weather the challenges in my life.