Friday, March 29, 2013

Just Breathe

I have been gone from home for two weeks and tomorrow will head off on another jaunt to visit my older daughter. While I was away, the snow melted, the daffodils pushed green spears up through the ground, and the snowdrops all around the cottage have bloomed at once. When I get back next weekend, I imagine there will be chives and parsley and oregano almost ready to eat. I saw their little shoots poking through the mulch in the herb garden. It won't take much more than a week of alternating rain and sun to coax them to edible height.

I have been lax with my blog visits; I'm sorry. Limited access to a computer and even less time to write or read here has made me a stranger. April is national poetry month and I've signed up to receive prompts from a local poet. Some may show up here if I can find time to scribble my responses. Meanwhile, thank you for all your kind comments on my sporadic posts. Someday I may be back on schedule!

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Spring Forward

First catkins.

The wind is singing in the trees, the sun is high in the sky, the birds are serenading from the treetops. The very air beckons come out, come out! So, I go. Underfoot the ground is soggy, spongy with seeping moisture and melting frost. I look around to make sure no one is watching and then skip and hop down the meadow path, flinging my arms out to the wind. I twirl and dance all by myself among the field grasses, feeling five years old and happily unfettered.

All around me are signs of impending spring—rushing water in the creek, the faintest brush of yellow across the willow tops, a balminess to the late afternoon that speaks of April. A red-winged blackbird chortles to itself among the rushes at the creek’s edge. Two cardinals carry on a conversation in song, back and forth, whistle for whistle until their voices overlap and run into each other. Five fat crows digging for things in the flattened grass make raucous comments as I pass and disgruntled, lift themselves off on glossy wings to dig farther afield.

I stop to admire the catkins on a pussy will bush. Soft and silvery gray, they look like furry little dewdrops. Every tree and bush bears fat buds ready to burst in the lengthening daylight and burgeoning warmth. I leave the meadow, duck into the woods. Sunlight slants through the trees, burnishing last year’s discarded leaves, pinpointing abandoned bird nests and polishing the soft, punky sides of fallen logs. Here the wind, filtered by a thick stand of trees, does not push so hard. There is solace here among the great weathered trunks and strong branches, comfort and strength and such beauty that my heart lifts and soars.

High in the southeastern sky the moon is a pale thumbprint pasted on blue paper. The sun sinks lower, taking the west wind with it until the whole meadow lies quiet, gilded, and I am the only thing stirring as far as I can see. I too, stand still, unwilling to disturb such peace. But, the sun path at the edge of the meadow is too tempting. I flee the chill of the shadowed ground, skip and hop into the waning sunshine.

More snow is predicted for the middle of the week. Winter is not done with us yet but oh, these days of golden promise will keep me happy until the promise is fulfilled.

Saturday, March 02, 2013

There's No Going Back Now

Tucked in a sheltered corner, the first snowdrops of the season!
February is gone. The lion winds of March are sweeping what’s left of winter toward the melting warmth of April. There are signs—daylight lingers in the sky until six in the evening and glows again softly at six in the morning. The zealous sun melts the snow in daytime, no matter how many times the temperature plunges after dark. My path and driveway are slick with ice from the tug of war between winter and spring.

There is a change in the air as well. There are cold days, to be sure. Today's sleet forced me to bundle up when just a few days ago I had to shed hat and mittens and loosen the top button of my coat. It is such days tucked between the cold ones—the teasers—that are the first indicators of seasonal change. The great shift will occur when the teasers are the norm and the cold days come as a surprise.

There is a freshness to the air that belies the staleness of the snow. I can almost smell spring, the sweetness that comes of freshly plowed ground and of green and growing things. When the afternoon sun shines down on the south-facing snow banks, Robert Frost’s silver lizards wiggle down the slopes, countless little rivulets of melted snow making their way into oblivion. My nose, all my senses, know what’s coming. 

So do the birds. The chickadees that come to the feeder slip into their two-note spring song now and then, as if practicing for April. High in the treetops the little finches that winter over sing to each other in the late afternoons. A few winter hardy robins venture out of the roadside brush to flit over the meadow, their orange undersides flashing brightly against the snow. The geese have just this week returned to fill the skies with their raucous vees and the red-winged blackbirds have come back to stake claims in the swamps. In just a few weeks the silent mornings will again give way to the joyful sounds of birdsong and evenings will be serenaded by spring peepers.

It is the season of bursting catkins, of the yellowing of willows and the reddening of dogwood withes. I know my garden perennials are beginning to stir deep down at their roots and I've just spotted the first snowdrops pushing up through the leaf mold. The maple trees give no visible sign that soon their sweet sap is rising but some are already decorated with collecting buckets. Seed and flower catalogs outnumber any other in my mailbox and those that sell clothing are introducing their summer lines. 

The pastel season is approaching. The glaring white snow, the dull gray clouds, and the washed out blue of the sky will give way slowly to petal pink, to daffodil yellow, to that lovely, ineffable shade of new leaf green. The months of waiting for spring have turned to weeks and will turn to days soon now - soon.