“And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.”  – Anaïs Nin

As East coast and Midwestern Americans huddle in the grip of sub-zero temperatures, I feel (almost) guilty for enjoying a balmy breeze on this last day of January. Although our California winter isn’t quite over yet, a pair of robins and an iridescent hummingbird are already flitting among the delicate white blossoms of an ancient plum tree outside my window, sure signs that spring can’t be too far away.

But make no mistake, I’m not a stranger to frigid midwestern winters. Trudging through sleet and snow on my way to school in Iowa as a child, I kept a keen eye out for even the tiniest hint of winter’s waning. The swellings on bare branches or the flash of a bright red cardinal gave me hope on the bleakest of days. But the courageous crocuses were my favorite sentinels of spring.  With their tenacious toes mired in slush, their delicate faces spattered with mud, and their pale green sheaths erect as soldiers, they never stopped pushing their way up through melting snowdrifts and icy rivulets at the edge of the sidewalk. How brave they were! Inspired, I sucked the frosty air into my lungs until they ached, tightened my boot laces, and marched off to school in their honor.

Fast forward to January 2019 and I find myself summoning that same kind of “crocus courage” as I anticipate the launching of my memoir, Newcomers in an Ancient Land, due out in July. Though I’m thrilled and humbled, I’m also trembling like the plum blossoms hanging over the ravine at the edge of my backyard. But there’s no turning back now. Like the crocuses, the book is now poised to open.