Mark Ballard

BALLARD: Spring's fresh start reminds me to be thankful

Outside the window, a group of chirping birds sang a melodious concert in perfect harmony. The theme of their performance was one filled with joy and happiness. The birds seemed to herald the change in the air -- something's coming and the birds are excited. They're not the only ones, either.

Appearing all around us are various signs suggesting that winter is slowly releasing its relentless cold grip. Apparently the birds want to go on record as being the first to know and, without hesitation, they are spreading the exciting news.

I smiled as I looked through the window watching them flit and flutter about from limb to limb. Only a pane of glass separated me from the birds' lively concert but, even through the glass, it was infectious.

Recently, as I venture out of my house, I can feel the seasonal baton being passed from winter to spring. The transition is slow and unsettled but with each day becomes more evident. The cooler temperatures don't give up without a fight, but the sun is relentless in heating things up.

Without complaining, the bare tree limbs have been patiently and silently waiting to bud forth with new growth. As time passes, the trees develop more courage to branch out a little further. The bright green leaves begin to unfurl and the sun bathes them in a warm, golden glow. They bask proudly in the light, begging for more, and the sun seems to oblige.

The color green begins to pop open across the landscape, bringing with it a new hope. Spring's arrival is joyfully celebrated by all of nature.

Other bushes and plants still have some hidden secrets to reveal. The warmer days slowly coax them out of hiding. They proudly unwrap their gorgeous blooms, offering them for display like shiny, beautiful jewels gleaming in the sunlight. The red bud trees and Japanese magnolias compete for our attention with their pink and purple hues and interestingly shaped blooms.

The dogwoods and cherry blossoms can't be far behind. Large camellia blooms still linger and azalea bushes of all shapes and sizes start to bud and unfurl with a colorful palette of pink, red, white and coral blooms.

Bulbs push up from under the cold earth in search of the sun's warmth. A variety of daffodils stand in rows making a beautiful statement. Delicate white snowdrops mingle with bright tulips. Dormant lawns and fields wake up and begin to transition from a lifeless brown into their bright and happy green.

A kaleidoscope of brilliant shades springs forth all around our landscape, decorating it with color. It's no wonder the birds are singing -- I want to, too!

Like a huge paintbrush has been dipped in a palette full of color, spring changes everything around us into a colorful painting. Spring is the time of year to look ahead to new beginnings.

I think spring comes each year to remind us that no matter how dark and dull things around us become, there is always hope for a change. Just as darkness can be overwhelming, if we remain patient, the sun will always rise again in the morning.

There is nothing more motivating and inspiring than a new beginning. It gives us another chance to do better than we did before.

The other day, I walked past our hydrangeas in the backyard. Up and down the brown, woody stems of the bushes was evidence of bright green growth. I stared at how they looked now as a result of the harsh winter months. But witnessing the new growth caused me to realize it was just a matter of time before the dormant hydrangeas regained their large foliage and impressive blooms. There was no doubt they would be beautiful once again.

As the jubilant birds continued their cantata in the background, I heard another sound. A bee buzzed by me in a big hurry. On a mission to locate pollen, it forgot to say hello, but still reminded me things were changing. As spring blows into our area -- leaving beauty everywhere in its path -- let's pause, give thanks and be grateful that we have another chance to enjoy this splendid and gorgeous time of year.

Mark Ballard's column runs each week in The Telegraph. Send your questions or comments to P.O. Box 4232, Macon, GA 31208; call 478-757-6877; email; follow him at; or become a subscriber to Mark's Facebook page.