Sunday, March 25, 2012

spring symphony

Allow me to state the obvious: this weather is downright strange. Not only are we soaring beyond heat records set over a century ago, we're surpassing them by some ten degrees, day after record-breaking day. Tomorrow a cold front is supposed to move in, but tonight, the sun has long set and the thermometer still reads 68 degrees and I am sitting on the stone wall outside my house with a headlamp on, amazed.

It is March 22. Four years ago during my first winter in Vermont, we got hammered with one snow storm after another in March, and my journal reveals that on this date I was snowshoeing around a frozen lake in waist-deep snow. Now, I'm sitting in sandals and a tee-shirt as the world around me crawls with new life. There's a scuffling at my feet and I catch it in the beam of my headlamp: a junebug-sized beetle. In March.

Over by the compost pile, I crouch low to the ground. There is something – many somethings – moving beneath the leaf litter. I stay very still and watch the earth come alive with movement: shifting, roiling from below as if the sea of brown leaves has become a pool of burbling lava. I pounce on a spot where there's motion but come up perplexed and empty handed, without evidence of the commotion that's stirring the leaves all around.

Finally, I figure it out: nightcrawlers, poking their blunt, blind heads from the dark earth beneath the leaves. In the garden there are hundreds of them, their mucous skin catching the beam of my headlamp as they emerge from the deep tunnels where they've spent the winter. Overhead, a bat skips across the sky like a rock across a calm pond.

And then, as the night fades from purple to black and the stars begin to emerge, a chorus of spring peepers begin to call, and, beyond, the low chattering of wood frogs like a flock of birds. The noise is a tonic, and I cannot sit still.

In the darkness, I begin to walk across this patchwork landscape. I cross the field toward the pond, where the ground is squishy. Cold water seeps through my crocs. I roll up my pant legs and continue.

At the edge of the woods where the frogs are loudest, I stop. Earlier, in the twilight, I had been feeling sorry for myself, gripped again by the loneliness that even the warmth of spring hasn't driven away. Now I am alive with the wonder and curiosity of this beautiful night, this spring air draping itself over my skin, all its creatures singing and rustling and emerging from the cold. And to think I could have so easily missed it all.

Walking on, I suddenly sink into mud up to my shins. I carefully pull my feet out of the muck and take my shoes off. The cold New England mud oozes between my toes, small rocks scraping against my winter-soft feet as they sink even deeper. And then, unexpectedly, I realize I am standing up to my knees in a pile of mud, laughing out loud under the stars as the orchestra of creatures around me fills the bare tree branches with the song of being alive.

Three signs of spring: trout lilies, frog eggs and fiddleheads (photos taken last May):

1 comment:

  1. I loved this entry... there is so much beauty and LIFE at our feet if we just take notice. Glad to know you 'noticed" some of the life around you... even though death is a part of life, living is the part we should focus on most.



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