Welcome Spring

The changing weather brings birdsong, thunderstorms, snowpiles, and taxes.

A strange sound greeted me as I stepped out the back door the other day. I paused for a second to determine its source. Birds! Hundreds of birds sat in our big maple trees, singing joyfully. No robins yet, but I hadn’t heard such giddy celebration in months.

Under sunny skies a southern breeze ushered in double digit temperatures for the first time in 2021.

“I’m going for a motorbike ride,” said Jack.

I opened the car door and Norton jumped in. “We’re going to the dog park,” I said with a smile. Out on the highway I lowered the windows enough for Norton to stick his head out. His ears and lips flapped blissfully in the wind as he inhaled the new season. Golden retriever heaven.

Ah, spring! People and dogs at the park greeted each other enthusiastically. My brand new rubber boots served well as we navigated slippery slopes and flooded fields. Norton and his buddies romped through the temporary lakes, soaking themselves and each other, pausing occasionally to lap up the icy water.

You know you’re Canadian when plus 12 degrees makes your heart glow. The sun’s warmth was like a divine kiss on my winter-weary forehead.

Temperatures rose, but dark clouds rolled in and the wind increased dramatically on our way home. A thunderstorm loomed in the distance. I cleaned up my wet, dirty friend before allowing him into the house. In the mud room (aptly named) I peered through the grimy window at fallen branches, random heaps of filthy snow, messy flowerbeds and a winter’s worth of debris scattered across the yard. My elation faded along with the sunshine. This, too, is spring in Ontario – endless clean up and yard work, hopefully done before the first lawn mowing begins.

Render to Caesar

My mood sank further as I passed my office door and caught sight of the stacks of paper on my desk. Another harbinger of spring – tax time is on the horizon. My books are up to date, but I dread preparing year end statements, gathering receipts and making my files presentable for the accountant. Then comes the day of reckoning, when the bottom line has been calculated and we have to pay the piper.

I recall some of our wealthier acquaintances years ago bemoaning their hefty tax bills. We had just started farming. Expenses were plentiful. I vowed that if we ever became rich enough to actually pay taxes, I wouldn’t feel sorry for myself.

That was then, right?

These days I need to remind myself of the tax advice Jesus gave those wily Pharisees. He took a denarius and asked whose image it bore. The answer was irrefutable: Caesar’s. And he said to them, “Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s.”

It applies to us as well. Canadians enjoy countless benefits. We may not always agree with our government’s decisions. But someone has to pay for things like education, healthcare and infrastructure. Citizenship includes responsibility – financial and otherwise. That’s only fair.

Still, there’s more to it, especially for Christians. Jesus continued: “and [render] to God the things that are God’s.” What does that entail? According to Genesis, every single human is made in the image of God, stamped with his likeness. So I owe not just a portion of what I have, but entirely who I am to my Creator. Sunshine or storms, it makes no difference. I’m created in his image and saved by grace. Each day carries forward the debt of faith and gratitude. The good news is the benefits are not only immediate, they’re eternal.


  • Heidi VanderSlikke

    Heidi VanderSlikke lives on a farm in Mapleton Township with her husband Jack. They share their home with a gigantic Golden Retriever named Norton, who thinks he's a lap dog. Heidi and Jack have three happily married children and seven delightful grandkids.

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