Fool’s Spring

Living in the mountains, one quickly learns that predicting weather in March is a fool’s errand. For several weeks, the swings between winter and spring are wild and seemingly random. Nature teases with warm days of sunshine, melting the long winter’s snow pack on the ground and inviting you to step outside without jacket, hat and gloves for the first time in months, turning your face toward a warmth you’d almost forgotten. A day later? Nature jolts you back into a winter mindset with sub-freezing temperatures and new snowfall.

You learn to go with the flow, finding ways to enjoy whatever weather you wake up to.

Morning is my favorite time of day. I wake easily, eager – along with the dogs – to head outside for some sort of adventure, whether a trail run, a walk, or a cross-country ski. While winter’s snows limit our options, especially toward spring when the snow softens, we’re not often deterred. We love snow too much.

It’s a rare day when the weather is so awful that we don’t get out at least for a walk. Starting each day outside, in nature, sets a positive tone for the hours that follow. Any lingering stress or problems from the day before quickly disappear.

Life’s reset button.

When you arise in the morning, think of what a precious privilege it is to be alive – to breathe, to think, to enjoy, to love. 

Marcus Aurelius

I often tell myself, as the boys and I are traveling to our starting point for that morning’s play, that I won’t take any photos because we’ve been there a million times before and it will be same-old-same-old.

dogs, snow, trees
Running on snowshoe trails with the boys, March 3, 2021.

But I’m always wrong. I take photos. Every time. Because each day we’re outside, wherever we go, even in winter, there’s something new, in the light cast by the morning sun, the fog, the snow, the scenery, the wildlife, or the boys’ behaviors. In awe, I want to keep and treasure it all, memories of yet another fine day.

There it is, fog, atmospheric moisture still uncertain in destination, not quite weather and not altogether mood, yet partaking of both.

Hal Borland
fog, snow, landscape
A band of fog hugs the valley’s sides, like a neck scarf. March 7, 2021.

The valley where I live has a small river running through it, inviting fog to form overnight. Fog is a regular morning feature. It moves, shape shifts, undulates, creeps and envelopes as night gives way to day. I often watch, mesmerized, as it silently advances from valley floor up toward my house a hundred feet higher at the edge of the forest, shrouding trees and houses below me before slowly retreating as the rising sun crests the ridges to the east, burning it off the landscape for the rest of the day.

It’s a living thing, the fog. Just another form of the wild life I enjoy observing here.

dogs, snow, clouds
Wisps of fog and striated clouds above on a morning walk in the valley. March 7, 2021.
dog rolling on snow
Finn demonstrating how to live in the moment. March 7, 2021.

March is a tomboy with tousled hair, a mischievous smile, mud on her shoes and a laugh in her voice.

Hal Borland

My father always referred to me as a tomboy when I was a child. I consider it a badge of honor. I’ve deliberately chosen to never outgrow that sense of play, adventure and discovery as an adult. Who cares how I look, how dirty I get, as long as I’m outside, enjoying and experiencing nature? The dirtier the better.

A good attitude to maintain, I remind myself, with mud season approaching.

All walking is discovery. On foot we take the time to see things whole.

Hal Borland

So true.

Even better that I get to see “things whole” through the eyes of my dogs. Especially Conall, who shows me so much I would otherwise miss.

animal tracks on snow berm
A set of animal tracks coming from one field, down the snow berm to cross the road and up the other berm to another field. March 2, 2021.
dog atop snow berm
Conall, seeing and smelling the tracks, climbed the berm to gain more information. March 2, 2021.
animal tracks across snowy pasture
That same morning, a bit lower in the valley as we drove home from our walk, I saw this set of tracks meandering across a pasture, disappearing into the dissipating morning fog. March 2, 2021.

Missing from the life of modern man is the deepest connection with the changes of the seasons, sunrise and sunset, the phases of the moon, the dark forest, the soul of brother animal, and the soil. Man’s soul is starving from this separation, lack, and poverty.

Marie-Louise Von Franz

I couldn’t agree more. I imagine how much better the world might be if those deep connections were enjoyed and maintained by all. One can’t advocate preserving something they’ve never experienced.

Never go too long without watching a sunset.

Atticus

Advice I take to heart.

sunset
Sunset, March 6, 2021. I’m very lucky to have this view.
dogs at sunset
Sunset’s warm glow reflected in Finn’s fur. March 1, 2021.

It was one of those March days when the sun shines hot and the wind blows cold: when it is summer in the light, and winter in the shade. 

Charles Dickens

I see spring in the light and winter in the shade a lot at my house, specially in the early part of the day. It’s beautiful.

Mornings are, I’ve learned, when the resident pair of ravens come by to check whether the boys and I have left them any treats to retrieve.

Conall’s Food Bank for Ravens has been bare lately (no voles), so I started tossing apple pieces onto the snow in the field, in addition to the occasional marrow bone (after the boys have enjoyed them). The raven pair is learning to trust it’s safe to retrieve them, although they’re still a bit wary of Finn’s barking and of me if I come outside to capture photos and video.

They seem to know that Conall won’t disturb them. He just quietly observes. Ravens and wolves have a known history of cooperation and playful interaction, so I like to think that these ravens accept the presence of the wolf-like Conall.

Lately some magpies have taken note of the raven’s interest in this bit of real estate and joined the party.

Conall quietly observing ravens and a magpie searching for treats in the field. March 3, 2021.

Add Finn to the mix and things suddenly get louder.

Such days of winter-spring mixed are the backdrop for the arrival of seasonal birds. Some are migrating, stopping briefly on their way north. Others are returning to this area from their wintering grounds to build nests, mate, and raise young. Every day I hear more birds.

Canada geese honking as they fly overhead while Conall and I were cross-country skiing March 4, 2021.
Canada geese on snowy pasture, mountain backdrop
Two Canada geese resting on a snow-covered valley pasture as they migrate north. March 5, 2021.

This evening, to my surprise, a rafter of turkeys appeared, crossing my lot. Some minutes earlier, near sunset, I had given the boys marrow bones to enjoy outside on the snow-covered deck. Conall’s woof alerted me to something unusual, so I left my office to investigate.

Turkeys parading across my lot while Conall focuses on his marrow bone. March 7, 2021.

A moment later, as I continued taking video of the turkeys, Finn decided they needed to be herded away from the yard. That’s the job of an Aussie! It wasn’t until I uploaded the video that I noticed he did so – barking – with his marrow bone safely in his mouth. Priorities.

There’s a Japanese words that resonates with me: Yūgen – an awareness of the universe that triggers emotional responses too deep and powerful for words.

Every one of these small encounters with nature pulls emotional strings within me. Individually they may appear insignificant, silly even, yet collectively they resonate deeply, reminding me what a tiny cog I am in the big machine called nature while inspiring me to learn more, embracing it all.

***

An end note, with humor, alluding to this post’s title: if you live in a place like I do – the mountains of Idaho – you quickly become familiar with nature’s ability to tease you into believing it’s the end of one season and the beginning of another.

meme - eleven seaons

I’m pretty sure we’re in “fool’s spring” this first week of March.

And finally, an apropos quote from one of my favorite authors:

I tell you, we are here on earth to fart around, and don’t let anyone tell you different.

Kurt Vonnegut

Feature photo: country barn in fog with rising sun, March 1, 2021.

17 thoughts on “Fool’s Spring”

  1. What a wonderful post Rebecca. And great images too. It’s never the same old. Even if you’ve been somewhere multiple times there’s always something new to see. So good you took your camera. I love that Japanese word and know the feeling. Enjoy your time in nature with those adorable happy dogs of yours.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Shelley.

      While I’m not a big fan of the ways cell phones have changed the ways people interact with each other, I am a fan of their amazing cameras, making it easy to always have the ability to take decent photos, even when I’m not planning to, since I carry the phone for emergencies.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I agree with you Rebecca. Having that phone on you is great for spontaneous images and especially for emergencies when you’re out and about. Like the time you had that horrendous encounter with those awful men.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. How disappointed I would be if you did not take photographs of beautiful Idaho. I so enjoyed all of your photos. I too have always been a tomboy and I am proud of it. There are so many silly things girls and women do that I do not like. I was always outside running wild with my two brothers. Nature thrills me to the core I am usually up at 4:00 A.M. every morning. I never miss a sunrise or a sunset. I loved the quotes you placed throughout this post. Good job my friend.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Spring is Nature’s way of saying, “Let’s Party!” –Robin Williams. Except in Idaho where the saying is “Let’s get out our snow shovels and keep digging until July 22nd.” Great photos & storyline.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. We’re bumping up against real spring here in the lowlands of Pennsylvania. 67 this evening when we all headed outside to run or ride. Throw in the time change this weekend and I think we’re there. Third winter would drive me nuts.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It can be frustrating, for sure, never knowing what you’ll wake up to! I can’t imagine temps near 70F in March! At least third winters here are short-lived, although you wouldn’t know it by the amount of grousing the locals offer up 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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