Thursday, March 20, 2008

Enjoy Spring Now!

Everything is responding to an age-old rhythm. Day and night have changed, shorter nights with longer days bringing more light and warmth. Things that seemed dead are burgeoning with life.

Daffodils stand tall with yellow bloom. New green life pokes up on bleached lawns, swamp willows have a lacy mahogany cap. Bluebirds nestle together on naked limbs and chosen boxes. With nuptial thoughts the male and female cardinals are eating together again at the table. Pine warblers serenaded daily before leaving the yard early for nesting in high pines. Doves softly coo.

February winds change course often but now comes a warm wind, soft as a kitten's fur, more and more days from the southwest. Under its spell, violets bloom, tight red quince buds unfurl, and cascades of yellow-bell brighten yards. Yes, we are aware of how quickly late winter weather can change. A cold winter day could hold them back, but on warm days they rush to catch up, and do. The Carolina wren is up and singing at first dawn. He's looking around for a home, looking over the real estate in our yard. They'll make good neighbors, the wren and the cardinal. Red-tailed hawks soar and swirl in the warm thermals. Purple martins are already here and looking for apartments. Sinuous columns of blackbirds darken the sky as they push northward.

On warm days, spring comes skipping through, tossing aside fragments of winter, gathering in her arms the smell of moist earth, the perfumed essence of tea olive and spice-scented camellias. With color, renewal and growth, spring is on her way, no matter the weather we have today.

Out my kitchen window I watch a pair of doves sashay up and down the driveway picking up fallen grain from feeders. One waddled over to the small rock pool, drank, then fluffed himself out upon a gray rock and sat perfectly still. I was surprised at how hard it was to see him and distinguish him from the gray rocks surrounding the pool.

Nature's camouflage is the "best ever invented" and no doubt it is given to her creatures as a survival weapon. I walk in the yard on one of the near 70 degree days and find another evidence of spring — a little ribbon snake sunning itself on the warm stone walk. Apparently he has not long been out of hibernation and has just shed his old skin. On this day he was a beautiful shiny patent leather black with a sunny yellow ribbon running down his back. I stand still and watch him. He lifts his sleepy eyes and nods, then slides off into the liriope. I look for his cast-off skin but don't find it.

The mockingbird is in fine form this morning. For ten minutes from the top of the chimney he pours out his sweetest, most musical song. Then all of a sudden he starts mimicking other birds. I counted as many as five other birds' songs that came from the mocker's throat. A brown thrasher, the mocker's cousin, is showering the neighborhood with rich, throaty notes of his beautiful nuptial song from high in a bud-swelling tree.

So much beauty and song today that will be gone in such a short time. Get out and enjoy SPRING today!

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