A Prayer for Farmers and For the Renewal of Interest in Classic Picture Books!
A Prayer in Spring
Robert Frost and Grandma Moses
There is also reason today to be thankful and to celebrate the 149th anniversary this year of poet Robert Frost’s birthday on March 26, 1874, with this celebration of seasons, touching the seeker and grower in all of us.
There were also plenty of prayers going skyward from farmers and growers of all types as spring and the new growing season begins anew in 2023.
Mother Nature was fairly gentle this winter in the northeast, but some variations in temperatures and spring planting could always be in a holding pattern.
After a two year cacophony of Covid news and the devastating Hurricane Ian that crippled southwest Florida, when I spied this picture book, I felt lighter. The words of Robert Frost’s springtime celebration poetry, coupled with Anna Mary Robertson, aka Grandma Moses, and her sublime scenes of spring, bid you to spur your young reader to get out and revel in the beauty present in nature’s ability to grow, change and thrive; no matter what the season.
It is always a constant reminder to humans that there is hope to be had as we watch nature’s cycles and dynamics hold within her, valuable lessons to adapt and thrive to what is; not to what is not.
Nature is a great healer and with the onset of the pandemic in 2020 and the onset of social distancing, school out for the duration of a lengthy amount of school years in the interim, things that normative are welcomed in with the changing of the seasons.
Good ole Mother Nature presses ahead with her own ideas on renewal each season to remind us to look ahead with hope to what’s coming down the road, and not in the rear view mirror.
Change, after all, as nature reflects back to us each year, is one of the constants in life.
Even the leaves that fell this fall, swirling in colors from the trees, are a metaphor for “letting go.”
I believe in acquainting young readers with classic picture book reads. That is not to say these books are the sole sanctuaries in picture book reading of what is meaningful and important to children, but they are very special for a reason. And that great leveler is time; and that is why great picture book art and narrative can still, years after their publication, continue to speak to a child’s heart.
And here, in “A Prayer in Spring,” two very American masters of art and poetry combine at the height of their pursuasive powers in poetry and art to bring the newness of spring from their quite original perspectives.
In Frost’s evocative poem of springtime sights, sounds and scenery, Grandma Moses matches his words with her very identifiable artistry and technique in her depiction of the flowers, foliage, bees, and rolling countryside that mimic Mother Earth’s slow reawakening.
I love these next few lines because they expressly capture the look of apple orchard blossoms at bud break that I have marveled at in our own orchard this past spring. It’s a creamy white haze of petals, amassed in row upon row, that all seems to meld together:
“Oh, give us pleasure in the orchard white, Like nothing else by day, like ghosts at night;”
And the book’s lines of poetry and art even seem to speak to the farmer’s nervousness, yet blind faith, as nothing about planting is ever guaranteed:
“Oh, give us pleasure in the flowers to-day;
And give us not to think so far away
As the uncertain harvest; keep us here
All simply in the springing of the year.”
I was heartened by those sublime words as we harvest the eight varieties of apples in our orchard this fall that have run the course, through soft spring days, scorching summer heated ones, now cool fall nights and the long winter’s rest ahead….until the turn of the calendar pages begin anew in 2023.
In a world of 24/7 news cycles, where families scramble to fulfill work and play obligations that are still more scheduled than ever; well maybe not THIS SPRING, we need to reflect and ruminate on what is truly essential in our lives:
Our families are essential.
Food is essential.
Friends are essential.
Love is essential.
Thanks for blessings is essential.
A place to rest our head at night is essential.
Hey, maybe Mother Nature is giving us all a not so gentle nudge to slow it down and look around and taking some picture book timeout with two titans of poetry, narrative and art combined.
Robert Frost and Grandma Moses will have you and your child immersed during a picture book spring sit-down, poring over pages of art bursting with green newness and renewal of possibilities.
It’s very catching, because this picture book has spurred me on to remember taking a walk in the apple orchard and seeing the blossoms of pink and white amid the aisles of apples trees, similar to a bridal path. Glorious!
Mother Nature, maybe, may just have one more surprise under her bonnet in the way of another storm. You never know. But, right after that surprise comes a reprise of all the sights and smells of earth renewing itself.
So, please do take a young reader by the hand and revel in the earthy newness soon to arrive right around the corner, amid the earth’s reawakening after the snooze of winter’s quiet rest and renewal, that can be seen and heard abounding within the pages of this essential classic picture book.
New life – new earth – new beginnings – all found with the turn of a picture book page!