It hardly looks like spring here in Idaho’s mountains. The ground is still covered in well over a foot of snow.
Many in more temperate climates are already greeting crocuses and daffodils, and cherry trees are blossoming.
She turned to the sunlight
And shook her yellow head,
And whispered to her neighbor:
“Winter is dead.”A. A. Milne
Not here. Not yet. Soon, though.
Based on that “11 seasons” meme I posted in Fool’s Spring, I think we may have made it through our second winter and are now solidly in the spring of deception. One more bout of winter, followed by a brief mud season, then true spring will finally brighten the forest, adding leaves to the shrubs, green to the grasses, and a riot of wildflowers beneath the trees. Returning songbirds will fill the air with their gleeful voices.
One learns patience, living in these mountains. Spring takes her own sweet time, waiting for the earth to absorb the life-sustaining snow which nourishes the soil and fills the streams and rivers.
As I await the much-anticipated changes to the landscape that herald springtime, I’m treated to dramatic weather. Today – the vernal equinox, marking the first day of spring – was no exception.
Rain. Sunshine. Wind. Clouds. Snow. Graupel. Sunshine. Thunderheads. Hail. Glimpses of a setting sun. Maybe some thunder tonight.
After taking the boys for a walk, we drove to a home a few miles away where I’m caring for three cats while their people are on vacation. For several minutes we were pelted with hail, falling fast and furious. On days like this, the weather changes quickly and frequently.
On the drive home I stopped to take a few photos of that changing weather, dramatic clouds against a bright blue sky, snow falling in micro-bursts.
Back home, late this afternoon I cleared the yard of dog bombs. Conall busied himself by digging deep into the snow. He had started digging in this spot yesterday, as if he’d heard a vole way down underneath, then gave up. I watched him for a moment, digging deeper, thinking surely he’ll hit dirt this time despite two feet of snow. He was focused and having fun. I went to another part of the yard to toss a toy for Finn. Conall soon joined us. Only later did I discover that Conall had succeeded in finding a vole, having left it near the hole he dug to find it.
Conall’s Food Bank for Ravens has reopened!
As the snow retreats in the yard, exposing vole tunnels, Conall should be able to keep his food bank stocked. I heard one of the ravens calling from the trees to the north and wondered if s/he was watching us, anticipating a meal later today or early tomorrow morning.
As the afternoon wore on, I watched the clouds: always moving, changing, shape-shifting, coalescing and breaking apart, thickening and thinning, meeting again, spinning their own tales, having their unique brand of fun. These dramatic clouds are, for me, the first sure signs of spring in the mountains as they scream, “Change is in the air!”
It is spring again. The earth is like a child that knows poems by heart.Rainer Maria Rilke
I see poetry in the movement of clouds across the sky, contrasting against a deep blue, the sun and its light highlighting their ever-changing shapes.
The thunderheads are always a welcome sight, a reminder of my father.
The boys accept my strange fascination with the clouds. They hang with me in the yard as I take photos. To them, all time spent together is good. Smart boys, my dogs.
I always find myself conflicted this time of year. I love snow. I love the white landscape and the crisp, cold air. I love running through the forest with the boys on packed snow, hearing it crunch beneath my shoes, bundled against the frigid temperature. I love how clean my house is in winter – no mud, dirt or dust tracked inside!
Yet I also long for the gorgeous wildflowers that I know are eagerly waiting to spring forth from the wet soil as soon as the snow retreats and the sun warms the ground. Such resilience, hope, and joy!
Luckily, I get to enjoy both seasons for a few weeks. I welcome spring at my house, where the lawn grass starts greening, the swallows return to their nesting box on the fence rail, and I move the table and chairs onto the deck for afternoons spent reading in the sun, while also enjoying the last bits of winter higher up in the forest where the snow has yet to retreat during morning runs with the boys. Truly, the best of both worlds.
The spring came suddenly, bursting upon the world as a child bursts into a room, with a laugh and a shout and hands full of flowers.Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
In these mountains, spring arrives slowly, cautiously, even timidly. I like it that way. A whisper rather than a shout, yet ultimately with hands full of wildflowers.
I believe a leaf of grass is no less than the journey-work of the stars.Walt Whitman