- Blur the details a bit and this could model a nice abstract canvas. Very warm day as various brilliant components of landscape start to detonate like fireworks. Forsythia and daffodils now, tulips and magnolias starting, azaleas and cherries soon to come. Each glance around becomes an enchanted gaze.
- I spent the day in the yard, not even drifting the block or so down to the water, catching up on some outside chores and enjoying our own proper flowers and bushes, each with a story to tell in remembrance of our lives. Breaking a rigid schedule once in a while for good cause is the right thing to do. Discovering fiddleheads emerging from leafy detritus in my backyard should be just as worthwhile as seeking something exotic along a more distant shore.
- April is proverbially filled with showers. A cloudy misty day has its own loveliness, especially now that the forsythia adds a soft golden glow to the already glistening greens of lawn and young weeds. People travel far to look for such scenes, Ireland is often mentioned. For those with eyes and a bit of imagination, local scenes like this have most of the charm of distant places. Even better, intimate knowledge of them day by day infuses the experience with the depth of linked knowledge.
- Chinese brush painters could have created fine scrolls of this, Japanese wood block artists would have added a figure or two for effect, impressionists would have replicated the glow. In my own poor way, I once tried to capture the feeling. But the awesome fact is that art and photography are poor substitutes for standing here, listening to nature all around, feeling the universe flowing everywhere, and realizing that this whole immense landscape is unique to me this moment. It is only there because I take the time to pause and enjoy and remember.
- Nothing at all subtle about this patch of celandine covering part of an entire hillside. An invasive and somewhat aggressive weed with brilliant crisp yellow flowers and shiny emerald leaves is even planted on purpose sometimes. Like ragweed, it seems quite happy in mostly desolate spots where not much else can make a go of it.
- Microclimates and tiny environmental zones are extremely noticeable this time of year. A few degrees tilt towards the sun, a bend to shelter from the north wind, a boggy low ground or simply an inland valley with raised temperatures will show entirely different stretches of plants. Forsythia blooms here but not there, ferns have emerged there but not here. Even if the difference is only a few days, I can often walk through several such places in an hour, marveling at the variety.
- Discovering hidden tiny surprises is one of the joys of early spring. Here we have a very small plant which is probably a mint, all with miniscule purple flowers resembling orchids. To properly appreciate it requires an ant’s-eye view. A casual glance across the sprouting coarse grass in this weedy patch would have ignored it entirely. For a week or so, such marvels are ubiquitous.
- In such small details, I find encapsulated the contradictions of the age. Each small flowering plant (a weed, truly) is a miraculous evolutionary survivor, with a pedigree as long as my own. Yet it is a footnote to history, environment, climate, and development. Well, in that, we are even closer kin. Nobody will fight to save it in its fragile magnificence, nor will it make it into some coffee table book to make wealthy people feel they are paying attention to nature, but its individual struggle is just as awesome as that of any rain forest or tropical reef. We must save the big things, of course, but we must remember we do so to preserve the small.
- Like some witch’s cottage tucked almost invisibly amongst a grove of trees, the old spring house at Coindre Hall (traditionally before refrigeration cheese and butter and milk could be kept fresh here with the cold running water in a relatively insulated space) squats gently above bursting clumps of dark green garlic. Its walls, like all abandoned walls, have not escaped the urge of people to prove they exist by making marks on the universe. This is a misty, gentle, warm day with birds almost deafening in massive symphony as they rush to finish mating and build nests.
- I felt tired, and achy, and almost didn’t make it over here. There was so much to do at home. Some mornings are like that, when I suddenly realize I cannot possibly do all I think I must. In this case, I figured I should really accomplish the one task I least felt like, and that proved to be the right choice. One of those strange moments that are far more beautiful in totality than any specific element could ever indicate _ if I went on for pages and pages I could never explain why it felt so perfect.
- These pussy willows are already going to seed, almost shocking given the sparseness of other visible activity. But hidden processes are going on everywhere now _ under the water, through the water becoming murky as algae reactivate, under the ground where ants and termites and microbes and spores and fungi are busily keeping the planet alive, and everywhere above where mosses have started into their fruiting cycle as well. There are so many humble unseen processes on which the biosphere is dependent, and many are hardly known.
- The damage we have done to the planet in the last few centuries may be reversible, but that is hard to tell since so much of it we are not aware of. The biosphere is mighty and flexible and resilient, but we have drenched large areas in poisons and contaminated the oceans with toxins, not to mention whatever effects may come from the gasses and industrial chemicals we have spewed into the atmosphere. Our influence may be overstated _ I hope it is _ but the plain fact is that _ like underground insects, moss spores, and harbor algae _ we are all ignorant of what once was and what should be. At least we should try to be conscious of what there is now.
- With highs near sixty and lows near forty each day for a week, a grand transformation is underway. Definitively now the browns are giving way to blushes and shouts of color, spots and patches to begin with, cascading until becoming the dominant features of the landscape. Miraculous rebirth so astounding that its novelty catches attention, even the most unobservant get caught up in the general excitement.
- Diligently seeking subtle signs of any growth for weeks now, I suddenly find myself overwhelmed by choice. Life is once again everywhere, charging forth with new banners almost each hour, regardless of outside conditions. Almost by definition, any picture I take now has elements of convention. I promise not to complain.