Sunday, February 26, 2017

Phenology's shoulder season

red maple buds
red maple buds
Photo by J. Harrington

It looks and feels as though we've entered what I'd call a shoulder season, not quite Winter, not quite Spring, just like a country road's shoulder is not quite road and not quite ditch. There's not a lot happening, unless you're tapping maple trees. Our local red maples haven't yet experienced budburst. I can't quite decide of the goldfinches have started to brighten or if it's my imagination. Except for a couple of purple finches, migratory songbirds haven't yet arrived although tomorrow could be an entirely different story, so we're keeping the feeders full.

hyacinth starting to bloom
hyacinth starting to bloom
Photo by J. Harrington

Both hyacinths have been moved from the piano top to a sill on an East-facing window through which the red maples can be seen. One hyacinth has begun to bloom. There are now crocus on the piano replacing the hyacinths. If Spring won't hurry to this Minnesotan, this Minnesotan will hurry to Spring. That also means it's again time for the annual pondering: is this the year to go buy a kite? I've probably watched Charlie Brown and the Kite-Eating Tree too many times, and yet, like Charlie, I too have hopes that this Spring could be different once we get off this shoulder and back on the road. I wonder if I could handle a dragon kite?

Kites


Come March we’d find them
In the five-and-dimes,
Furled tighter than umbrellas
About their slats, the air

In an undertow above us
Like weather on the maps.
We’d play out lines
Of kite string, tugging against

The bucking sideways flights.
Readied for assembly,
I’d arc the tensed keel of balsa
Into place against the crosspiece,

Feeling the paper snap
Tautly as a sheet, then lift
The almost weightless body
Up to where it hauled me

Trolling into the winds—
Knotted bows like vertebrae
Flashing among fields
Of light. Why ruin it

By recalling the aftermaths?
Kites gone down in tatters,
Kites fraying like flotsam
From the tops of the trees.

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