Tuesday, April 26, 2016

The #phenology of hope

Do you remember those Christmases when you were a child that you really, really hoped for a pony or a new bicycle from Santa? And the disappointment you felt when you ended up with new mittens and underwear? That's the kind of whiplash I feel almost every Spring in Minnesota. Extravagant and hopeful promises are dashed by a persistent reality that's chilly to downright cold, dreary, cloudy and damp. But each and every Spring I let my hopes rise, maybe this time it will be different. Sort of like Charlie Brown, Lucy, and the football each Autumn.

lilac flower buds, early May last year
lilac flower buds, early May last year
Photo by J. Harrington

With today's thick overcast and temperatures barely above 40F, I find it really challenging to get enthused about looking for wildflowers. (Speaking of challenging, be sure to read Stephanie Hemphill's Efforts to restore wild rice in the St. Louis River face challenges. I have to take an extra blood pressure pill every time I read Governor Dayton's quote “U.S. Steel has made it very clear they’re not going to agree to a permit which has a standard of ten,”... Do you get perturbed when U.S. corporations refuse to follow existing laws and regulations and government sides with scofflaws?)

hummingbird at feeder, early May last year
hummingbird at feeder, early May last year
Photo by J. Harrington

I know warmer temperatures and wildflowers and returning songbirds and hummingbirds will come, just as Christmas does each year. Soon followed by hatching goslings and temperatures in the upper 80's or low 90's. Minnesota rarely seems able to put together the kind of weather I consider as Spring for more than a long weekend or so, between Winter's last snow fall and Summer's scorching humidity. Meanwhile, I'll put on an extra sweater and thick socks and keep the spare battery for the camera next to my body so it stays warm and charged. I'll also enjoy an extended chili season and the chance to bake several more loaves of bread before it gets to be too warm to turn on the oven. I may be becoming a naturalized Minnesotan. I'm learning to "make do" and enjoy it. It could be worse (and probably will be some day).

“Hope” is the thing with feathers - (314)

By Emily Dickinson

“Hope” is the thing with feathers -
That perches in the soul -
And sings the tune without the words -
And never stops - at all -

And sweetest - in the Gale - is heard -
And sore must be the storm -
That could abash the little Bird
That kept so many warm -

I’ve heard it in the chillest land -
And on the strangest Sea -
Yet - never - in Extremity,
It asked a crumb - of me.


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