February 23rd, 2005

sutter_buttes_scene

Cleared for Departure

Slowly, the clouds withdraw, unveiling the full moon. The soft landscape is replaced by bright glare and stark shadows. Flocks of waterfowl fly north, their calls filling the dark woodlands and ghostly fields. The scent of the late rains lingers in the cool air. It is a green smell. So abundant has this winter's rain been, and so mild the temperature, that the grasses have endured no extended period of being brown. The uncommon lightness of the season's tread has kept things growing, and there has been no lethargic, moribund time such as these months usually bring. Only the absence of leaves on the trees, the length of day's shadows, and that high winter moon have confirmed that January and February have been passing. Weeks from the equinox, the days already threaten to warm, and release the pent energy from the land. The departing migrants in the night sky display their belief that it will be so. Poor winter, shorn of all its power, will soon follow those flocks, I suspect. Never before have I mourned the passing of winter, but I now, to my surprise, and despite my greater affection for spring, feel sadness for this season's impending demise. It was weak, and now threatens to die never having reached full maturity. More birds now fly north, sounding happy to sing winter a funeral dirge.
caillebotte_the orangerie

Bloomers

Overnight, cheerful pink blossoms have burst out on our diminutive peach tree. The cherry blossoms can't be for behind. The day was even warmer than I expected, its soft drifts of cirrus clouds, the pale blue sky, and brilliant sunshine all bespeaking the early arrival of spring. The unexpected guest has set the birds into a frenzy of gathering and chirping, and squirrels were out playing, one pair setting up a ruckus as they chased each other about a neighbor's rooftop. More flowers are blooming, inviting a surprising number of hummingbirds to feast. I've seen more hummingbirds today than I can recall ever seeing in a single day before- over a dozen were about in one short period, and three pairs were in the yard at one time. Unless winter has some vindictive trick yet to play, I believe we are about to experience a most vivid spring.

The frog chorus, which had been silent during the recent drenching rains, is singing once again, its boggy home now replenished. The owls began hooting soon after dusk, and still more flocks of waterfowl are adding their voices to the evening concert as they fly north. Even with the bright light of the rising moon they remain unseen, but the air is seldom without their calls. One more indication of the change of season is the tickling of my nose, already beginning to feel the distress of fresh pollen that has been released by all those prematurely blooming plants. Well, no season is perfect.