Sunday, April 12, 2015

The tonic of Spring

Yesterday I (re)discovered that my legs aren't as durable and resilient as they were the last time I went looking for early Spring skunk cabbage. That's what 30 or 40 years can do to you if you have a desk job. I did, however, discover some skunk cabbage nearby, so all's well that ends well. Local red maples are bursting their buds. Moss is showing new growth. Several other plants I couldn't recognize are emerging wearing this year's greenery. Seeing many of the local residents who share our world return to growth from Winter dormancy is a Spring tonic for many of us who live in the North Country.

red maple buds bursting
red maple buds bursting
Photo by J. Harrington


moss with sporophytes
Photo by J. Harrington


emerging skunk cabbages
Photo by J. Harrington

Many of these early Spring signs can be found from urban parks in Minneapolis and St. Paul to areas where nature is much more dominant, such as the Carlos Avery Wildlife Management Area. The fact that Spring in My Minnesota is such a chancy affair is all the more reason to celebrate it, although scheduling an annual Spring celebration in Minnesota requires lots of flexibility. On the other hand, each year National Poetry Month occurs throughout April. Maybe that's how we should schedule Minnesota's Spring Celebration, but make it two months long to also include May. I'm not sure I ever before thought of Spring as a two month long celebration. Silly me.

National Poetry Month


Amy Lowell's poem puts me in mind of Aldo Leopold's essay Thinking Like a Mountain. I'm much more inclined to believe we all need to realize and remember that mountains have secret opinions than I am to accept Lowell's view that Monadnock watches all unmoved.

Monadnock in Early Spring

Amy Lowell, 1874 - 1925 
Cloud-topped and splendid, dominating all
    The little lesser hills which compass thee,
    Thou standest, bright with April’s buoyancy,
Yet holding Winter in some shaded wall
Of stern, steep rock; and startled by the call
    Of Spring, thy trees flush with expectancy
    And cast a cloud of crimson, silently,
Above thy snowy crevices where fall
    Pale shrivelled oak leaves, while the snow beneath
    Melts at their phantom touch. Another year
Is quick with import. Such each year has been.
    Unmoved thou watchest all, and all bequeath
    Some jewel to thy diadem of power,
Thou pledge of greater majesty unseen.


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