• Surprisingly quickly, the darkest days of winter are just memories.  The sun rises early, sets in evening instead of afternoon, and is brilliant and blinding at high noon.  Somehow the snow has remained white for the last week, and newly formed ice sparkles with crystalline dazzle.  Sometimes high ice clouds dim the solar disk to a pale ghost, but often the sky is an impossible glaring blue.  Sunglasses may be required.
  • In December, the indoor lights were on by 4pm, now I wait until almost 5:30, and each day edges a bit farther into night.  Soon I will become impatient as I assume the beckoning outdoors has become more temperately hospitable than it actually is.  Late winter and early spring for a casual gardener can be a tediously long season of disappointments.  I must content myself enjoying abstract visual patterns, which abound in ubiquitous contrasts.


Cold sunbeam, hard water,
Sharp rain
Seem incongruous

Are not


  • The perversity of the universe tends to the maximum _ at least as regards individual plans.  A topic like “brilliant”, conceived when mornings were blindingly bright is greeted by days of snow, rain, mist, fog, and dense overcast.  No use trying to convince anybody that dark and gloomy now is much less dark than it would have been in early January.
  • However, the core idea holds.  One or two senses are easily misled.  Morning thermometer readings over the last three days were -2, 13, and 50.  Jumping out into beautiful sunlight was jarringly deep-freeze, heading into depressing rain is warmly enveloping.   Only the wind has remained constant, present via sound indoors or via touch outside.  Perversity adds contrast and interest and excitement to what would otherwise be a dull, logical existence.


As I strolled out to pick up the mail delivery, I ran into Ed, clutching a huge thick bundle of the latest deliveries.  “Looks like you have a lot to look through,” I joked.  “Sure hope they’re not all bills.”
“Mostly spring catalogs,” he replied, reshuffling the pile which had started to slip out of his grasp.  “I made the mistake of ordering some bulbs from them last year.  Now there is no end to the offers.”
“Ah, then I am sure I will be faced with the same as soon as I open my mailbox.”
“They time them carefully, I suppose,” he continued.  “By the time you can actually plant anything,  no offers show up.  Right now they’re just feeding dreams and hopes while we sit depressed in our living rooms waiting for spring.”
“Speak for yourself,” I begin.
He cuts me off, “You said you do the same thing.”
“Well, yeah.”
“Just two suckers, trusting the brilliant beautiful pictures.  The sunlight seems as if we could go out and stick them in right now.  The catalogs imply you can put them out as soon as they ship in a month or so.”
“Yeah,” I laugh, “and watch them shrivel up in some late frost so you have to order them all over again.”
“Well, they’re cheap dreams,” he began to walk off.  “Promises that warm days and blooms will be coming along following the longer days and brighter sun and warming soil.”
“Just not for a while …”  I add, taking out my own stack of flyers.

We wave goodbye and head back inside, still marveling at our own unrepentant gullibility.


  • Thirty degree wind in crystalline Canadian air feels invigorating rather than depressing.  Brilliant sunbeams cast jeweled sparkles on tiny wavelets that support ducks already pursuing mating bonds.  March looms with promises of spring fever, already noticeable in some swelling buds and blushing branches.
  • I need not hurry the season along.  My universe is determined not by what arrives from the outside world, but by how I greet each event and observation.  Today I am fortunate: this sharp wind accelerates my step, this bright dome of immaculate blues clears my senses.  My world feels poised for a new and exciting beginning, and I can only marvel that time has streamed by so quickly.


  • Brilliant usually connotes something desirable.  Outdoor life can be marvelous when brilliant sun shines.  Everyone wants to hear that their plan or their child is brilliant.  But, like most of our words and concepts, desirability lies in context rather than attribute.
  • Brilliant sun on endless desert, on vast icefield, on trackless ocean can be horrible.  Eyes are poisoned, skin crisps.  Lacking rain, crops perish.  Life in any niche depends on average certainty, too much brilliance just as fatal as too little.
  • Brilliant people may use their gift to bad ends.  We do not need James Bond villains as reminders that intellectual brilliance without socialization is the definition of evil. 
  • In this age of pasty bling, we have lost sight of context.  Brilliant inventions like atomic bombs or genetic modification or computerized culture may destroy civilization, yet we gasp and applaud at magical flashing demonstrations of achievement.  Brilliant religious or political logical scaffolds built on unprovable or insane foundations cause misery and cult violence.
  • Brilliance can be noble.  However, it must connect to its environment and be harnessed not only by its opposites, but also by surrounding tensions.  Life and consciousness exist as a balanced mesh of necessities.  Untamed brilliance has now become a threat and a curse.    


  • Nearly sixty degrees, full sun, low wind, Saturday, and Caumsett Park packed like a rock concert.  It’s good that so many people still appreciate the value of nature _ media seems to believe everyone stays inside on the internet most of the time.  Lots of children riding bicycles, seniors “walking briskly”, everyone enjoying this unusual meteorological gift.
  • Being an old curmudgeon, I slipped away from the crowds and strolled the empty shores of Lloyd Inlet, marveling at the continued destruction of mussel beds.  Spring and summer now start to rebuild what ice has torn to pieces.  Naturally, a brilliant sun blazed low on the horizon, blinding anyone trying to look across the wetlands in that direction.  No matter _ I’m still capable of turning my head the other way.

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