It’s not so much that March or April snow is unknown around here, but given the month we’ve had this does seem to be just piling on. Old Man Winter is thumbing his nose and refusing to leave gracefully. It’s all the more shocking to wake to an unpredicted squall. Oh, and it’s baseball home opening …
On the other hand, I looked around the yard carefully yesterday and all the buds are advancing rapidly. The forsythia are showing green shoots, the maples have red tips, the roses _ well, the ones not totally dark from freezes _ are ready to leaf out. Perhaps this will be the week _ but I’ve been hoping that for a while.
Snow quickly melted, cold morning remains, and this old standby is ready to go. Crocuses are circus performers, always doing the magical and unexpected, popping up anywhere, surprising and astonishing. I too easily overlook them because they are tiny and _ well _ being crocuses they are common. And not native.
The whole debate on native species is a bit weird. The world has gone global, everything has been imported everywhere, including us. What astonishes now are any plants or animals who can survive and thrive on their own in modern environments, no matter what their origin. That’s why ragweed has to be admired as much as some rare bog dweller I will never encounter.
Speak of the devil _ here are shoots of ragweed getting a jump on the rest of the plant world. This joins the bright sun, continuous and noisy birdsong, and mating frolics of waterfowl to lift my mood a bit, even if the temperature remains a bit low and the sky is often overcast.
In no time at all I will probably be complaining about yard chores and keeping up with life bursting its bounds _ why must dandelions pick my lawn, or garlic grow in my flowerbeds, or ragweed and poison ivy colonize forgotten corners? Sometimes we say we want nature, but only on our own terms. Nature has other plans.
Willows are about two weeks behind. Even from a distance, you can see the branches brightening into a brownish green, and close up green shoots are starting to form the leaves for the year. Even the perennials along the little stream here at Hecksher park have some green tinges at their roots. Overall, even in this picture, the world seems brown and sleeping, but the alarm clock has gone off.
I sat here on a bench and ate a peanut butter sandwich as two fat ducks with obvious experience waddled over for a handout. It’s nice to rest here _ even with the temperature just near fifty _ without freezing, and anticipate what is coming or absorb what already is.
Might still look like winter, but that’s because of what mere photographs leave out. The ground is no longer frozen beneath my feet _ that’s good thick spring mud down there. Off to the left in the reeds red-winged blackbirds are screeching constantly. The wind has no bite so a lighter jacket and cap have replaced the heavier garments of March.
Not to be discounted is the intangible mood that envelops us this season. Grey skies and rain seem temporary, we look forward to a long period of the world becoming paradise, swimming and barbecue and vacation. In some ways the anticipation is better than the real thing when it arrives, always tinged with regret that it is going away almost as soon as it arrives. But now _ ah now, all is hope.
In a few weeks, brambles such as these will be completely clothed in verdant new green. They begin the full transformation of the landscape from one palette to another, until by May except to our jaded eyes the world has become completely transformed. We busily scurry about doing important things until forced to look up and out for one reason or another.
Dire consequences are predicted almost daily as the result of “human activities,” and we may study and tremble for the future. But all anyone every really has or had is their present, and we are even more negligent to ignore the day before us than to heedlessly ruin the future.
Patches of true spring are appearing everywhere now, although some of the more interesting ones may be hard to find. This view, for example, is hidden behind a low wall on East Shore Drive. Crocuses tend to colonize wherever they have been planted over the years, even though the use of the ground changes, and they remain blooming long after their original gardener has moved on or died.
In a few months, from this exact spot, you would not be able to see the water and boats. Those innocuous looking vines draping picturesquely about fill in with thick leaves and form a verdant wall. Being aware of what has been and what will be, expectations and fulfilment and surprise, is one of the essential joys of hiking the same trails throughout the seasons.