Michelle Martin

Something new

April 17, 2024

Our crocuses bloomed really early this year. In February, if you can believe it. Well, Feb. 29, so in most years it would have been March.

Still, that’s a good two weeks earlier than in most years.

I credit a really warm February and early March for that. The weather took a turn for the cold and wet, though, and it was the end of March before our daffodils came along.

But a funny thing happened when they did: I noticed two more crocuses, white with delicate purple stripes, that had just bloomed along with the daffodils.

Why so late? I have theories, but I don’t really know. They’re a different variety than my early-blooming bright yellow crocuses. I just planted them last fall, so they haven’t had years to get into the pattern. And they are planted in a slightly shadier spot.

Whatever the reason, I was just as thrilled to see the new crocuses as I was to see the first. But I might never have noticed them if I wasn’t already looking in that flowerbed to begin with.

I think it’s human nature to get excited over something new. There’s a novelty bias in what we notice; a child might remember the first time they go to the zoo, but if they go often enough, they won’t necessarily remember the 12th time, or the 50th. Just that they went to the zoo a lot.

And parents might not even remember exactly what was special about the first time, as it blends into all the trips that come later. Then one day they look up and the child who was entranced by the seals and the polar bears is a teenager who no longer wants to go to the zoo, and especially not with their parents.

No one really knows when the last zoo trip comes. Especially since those teenagers might consent to a visit every now and then, to see the lights at Christmas, or to enjoy the weather on a fine day, or just to indulge their parents and their sense of nostalgia.

The very fact of saying that something happened for the first time implies that sometime, eventually, it will happen for a last time.

I’ve been thinking a lot about last things this year, as Teresa is finishing eighth grade. After she graduates, next fall will be the first time in 19 years that we will not have a child in her school. She was our last child to start preschool and kindergarten, will be our last child to graduate eighth grade, will be our last child to start high school.

For her, though, this is the first time she’s going through all of it.

That’s something we all need to think about as we cycle through the seasons of the both the earth and the liturgical year. There might be nothing new under the sun, as Ecclesiastes tells us, but also, with salvation, Revelation tells us, God makes all things new.

It’s up to us to see the things that come last with new eyes, and to appreciate them as much as we do the things that come first.



  • family life