Saturday, March 18, 2017

In appreciation for phenology

The sky is overcast. The temperature's in the mid-thirties. It's not raining or snowing. The wind isn't blowing very hard. We're on Daylight Savings Time and we've reached the Eve of the Eve of 2017's Vernal Equinox. We're on the downslope side of March and, unlike Caesar, we've made it past the Ides. That doesn't mean we might not still end up with knee-deep snowfalls, but the odds diminish daily. And the sun's angle and warmth will continue to increase for months.

The bulbs, hyacinth, crocus and daffodil, that were forced into bloom in the house are now fading. Soon the ground will be thawed enough to plant the bulbs outside. Soon it will be time to go looking for a couple of aster plants to replace the ones the were mistakenly dug up last Autumn. Soon the last of Winter's ice cover will be gone and lakes and streams will enjoy ice out and we'll enjoy open waters. This year, some have already reached that status.

Spring waterfowl: Northbound
Spring waterfowl: Northbound
Photo by J. Harrington

The usual flocks of waterfowl were no where to be seen today as we drove past the Sunrise River pools. Red-winged blackbirds were occupied somewhere out of sight. No robins, other than the solitary bird a few days ago, have been seen in the past few days. But, we have faith that, though unseen, Spring's migrants are here or on their way. We are grateful for the improved weather and the vernal signs we've enjoyed thus far. Each year we are again reminded that Spring's denoument occurs over several acts and in many sets. In Minnesota, Spring is not a one act play.

Birds Again




A secret came a week ago though I already
knew it just beyond the bruised lips of consciousness.
The very alive souls of thirty-five hundred dead birds
are harbored in my body. It’s not uncomfortable.
I’m only temporary habitat for these not-quite-
weightless creatures. I offered a wordless invitation
and now they’re roosting within me, recalling
how I had watched them at night
in fall and spring passing across earth moons,
little clouds of black confetti, chattering and singing
on their way north or south. Now in my dreams
I see from the air the rumpled green and beige,
the watery face of earth as if they’re carrying
me rather than me carrying them. Next winter
I’ll release them near the estuary west of Alvarado
and south of Veracruz. I can see them perching
on undiscovered Olmec heads. We’ll say goodbye
and I’ll return my dreams to earth.


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