Friday, March 16, 2018

When Spring is more promise than real

Next week is the vernal equinox in the Northern Hemisphere: official beginning of astronomical Spring. Then, again, this is Minnesota, where Spring usually arrives with the enthusiasm of a three year-old on the way to the dentist or doctor, foot dragging all over the place. Sometimes even a full scale thrash about on the floor tantrum through the appearance of a Spring snowstorm, followed, two days later, by the arrival of 80℉ Summer weather.

The driveway is still mostly covered with ice and snow. Snowlines in our fields are slowly shrinking and slipping down South-facing slopes. Bluebirds have been reported to have returned to houses some 30 or 40 miles South of us. We'll close up our houses in the next few days, although it still seems very early. While we're at it, we'll hang our native bee house and see if anyone shows up as the snow melts.

reported, but neither seen nor heard
reported, but neither seen nor heard
Photo by J. Harrington

We've also seen reports that male red-winged blackbirds are back but can't yet personally vouch for that either. Knock on wood we seem to have dodged this past season's flu but we are definitely looking forward to having a bout of Spring fever. At least we haven't suffered through a series of Nor'Easters bringing massive amounts of snowfall, as has New England. I never, ever expected to be grateful to spend late Winter in Minnesota instead of Massachusetts, but this year proves there's an exception to everything.

swollen, but not yet burst
swollen, but not yet burst
Photo by J. Harrington

Although maple buds are beginning to swell, there's still no sign of bud burst nor open water, unlike some past years when one or the other, or both, have been in evidence about this time of month. March may well be the most variably volatile month of the year. As climate change and global warming continue, will it stay that way or will other months begin to equal March's madness?

Enjoy St. Patrick's Day tomorrow. We'll be in a political convention all day (what were we thinking?) and may or may not get home in time to post a report. Of course, the weather is forecast to be warm, maybe even 50℉ and sunny. Sigh!

Not Ideas About the Thing But the Thing Itself


Wallace Stevens, 1879 - 1955


At the earliest ending of winter, 
In March, a scrawny cry from outside 
Seemed like a sound in his mind. 

He knew that he heard it, 
A bird’s cry at daylight or before,
In the early March wind.
 
The sun was rising at six, 
No longer a battered panache above snow . . . 
It would have been outside. 

It was not from the vast ventriloquism 
Of sleep’s faded papier mâché . . .
The sun was coming from outside. 

That scrawny cry—it was 
A chorister whose c preceded the choir. 
It was part of the colossal sun, 

Surrounded by its choral rings, 
Still far away. It was like 
A new knowledge of reality.


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