- Showdrops in leftover leaves, a couple selected from large clumps growing on the bluffs on the east shore. Beyond the bare vine network brilliant blue sky promises a lovely day. But this morning, the sun and wind are involved in a classic struggle recalling the old fable. Where the sun shines and the wind is blocked, hats and gloves come off, where the wind howls and the sun is shaded, covering head and hands is hardly enough. Looks beautiful, no matter what.
- I am easily pleased for a little while, then hope for better. Twenty degrees warmer than a week ago is wonderful, ten degrees more would be far more delightful. A snowdrop is fine, but where are the daffodils? And when all that happens, in due course, my insatiable desires will continue to elevate unabated. Kind of a curse, but one that forces me to always appreciate the infinite varieties of our world.
- Sap rising, leaves unfurling on honeysuckle on the fence overlooking the inlet. Most of the tangle remains blasted and brown, but underneath the basic patterns and essentials remain, the spark survives, and miracles of near-resurrection occur once again. Every bit of new growth after such a long dormancy is a wonder and cause for rejoicing.
- All of this affects my spirit tremendously. Some philosophies claim we should remain detached, take all as it is, be unaffected by the ebb and flow of event and circumstances. Once in a while I try such an approach, and then reject it. It doesn’t fit my own tides and emotions. I love spring, exalt in summer , savor autumn and endure winter. Being willing to let my spirit flow with sun and rain, cold and heat, calm and storm, bloom and blast _ ah, that is a joy of being conscious.
- At Hecksher park, turtles climb out of the pond to sun themselves on the banks of a few islands or swim slowly about, heads in the air. This one seems to be resting in a small stream, but as it never moved it’s hard to tell if it is really resting or dead. Seems a tragedy to make it through such a difficult winter, only to miss the spring, even for a turtle. Otherwise, except for the happy screams of herds of young children at the playground, only the warmer temperature gives strong hints that the season is finally progressing.
- There are not many animals in my photos. I don’t pretend to be a photographer, and purposely use lower grade equipment, slow shutter speed, low resolution shots. That’s unfashionable _ I’ve read reviews of new cell phone cameras where a young woman describes capabilities with all the tenderness, excitement, anticipation, and sheer lust more appropriate to a lover. Some even here have telescopic lenses the length of rifles. For me, another minor tool, a sketch rather than a finished artwork, and usually incapable of capturing wildlife. Able to snap shots of turtles, however, especially if they are not alive.
- In a forlorn marsh formed by a tiny brook that is more of a drainage ditch, in a forgotten back woodlot at Mill Dam Park, this reliable grouping of skunk cabbage is always fully in bloom by now. Being endothermic (generating its own heat) its flowers are only slightly affected by yearly variations in snow and cold. At least enough early insects are around to have guaranteed its survival _ and it is almost everywhere, particularly in places where people do not even want to walk. An overlooked native wildflower holding out against human encroachment on own terms.
- I hope that such survival means other species will also make it through this epoch. We pave our cities and fill suburbs with strange exotica and carry invasive disruptions floral and animal throughout the world. Farmlands have become vast barren chemical monocultures. Wildlands and parks set aside are isolated and often on land that nobody wants for anything else, lacking the niches necessary to support any variety. Yet skunk cabbage is still doing well, a harbinger of spring, and a few other plants and animals seem to be creeping back into our worlds. I don’t give this hope much percentage of success, mind you, but it is at least possible.
- April arrives looking pretty much as March did. The evergreens are bright and cheerful, but the only other real sight of green is this verdant scum on the pond at Coindre Hall. Most years it hasn’t shown up until much later, perhaps the underground water supply is warmer than usual. It does provide an interesting aesthetic harmony with the browns of the reeds and weeds. Nature always surprising and always correct in its artistic judgement.
- Scum is life as much as we are. An awful lot of our genes are shared, and we require almost exactly the same environmental conditions. Most of us have grown taught that we must be all that we can be, do all that we can do, that only being excellent counts. I wonder, sometimes, if being scum doesn’t count too. Not that I want to be scum, nor encourage you to strive for i
t, but I believe a human life without fantastic recognized achievements is just as meaningful in experience and being as that of any of those exalted by historians and publicists. We are each one of nature’s masterpieces.
- As the snow melts away, revealing sprouting weeds and greening shoots with a flower here or there, other objects emerge. Some trash was here before the winter snows, but a lot of it gets layered on between snowfalls, and remains hidden for months. Some artists might find in all this some kind of aesthetic vision.
- Not me, however. Garbage is garbage. I admit that I have been pleasantly surprised this year that the actual amount is a lot less than I expected. I suppose the deep cold and constant precipitation made everyone keep their car windows shut tightly, so less opportunity to litter. Probably less pedestrians as well, certainly nobody on bicycles. All will now revert to form, and it will be a race between new growth and new human detritus.
- First flowers, first honors. This clump by the harbor always seems to manage to push up yellow buds before other crocuses in more favored locations. Old leaves and remnants of last year’s flowers lie all around, soon to be cleaned up by the caretaker in a fit of spring fever. Certainly a cheery sight, on a cold day with overnight snow yet again.
- Crocuses are imported, but pretty well adapted and naturalized. Since studying evolution, I never saw nature again as I did when I was a young child. Even opening early is a ploy in survival and competition, gentle though it may seem. Survival is not all red tooth and claw, sometimes it is being first, or even waiting until last, or a faint color difference, or basic luck in where you happen to be. Not unlike our lives.