Turning the corner, rounding the bend, riding the wheel
This weekend, it happened. Here, anyway: the Moment occurs in its own time in each and every place. Yesterday afternoon, I felt the change, and this morning’s short walk in the nearby landscape between the house and river left no doubt: winter is over, and spring is in the air.
Oh, we’ll surely get more snow, a few more deep freeze nights; the frost-free date for our gardens is still a couple months away. Yet the unmistakable signs are all around.
The sun is toasting my skin, my flesh, my bones. The morning breeze feels warm, not chilling. Under the box elder, cottonwoods, and junipers in the bottomland, that eager spring grass shines bright green. A bee came by to say hello while I sat on the wooden bench (though the hive in the base of the elder appears to be still dormant). The stream is flowing clear and near its strongest steady, non-flash-flood, best – too wide to jump across! And the water’s singing its sweetest springtime songs: tiny-bell cascades of light, bright tones chime from little riffles every ten feet or so. From any spot where I stop to look and listen, two or three of these distinct clusters of stream-voice call gently, one a bit upstream, another a tad downstream, and sometimes also a third, directly below my dry-dirt perch on the bank.
Only three nights ago – Friday – darkness brought a sudden, deep single-digit chill. Saturday, a cold wind kept me hustling on my way when outdoors. Yesterday, though, after a morning in the house, I was surprised to feel a high-50s warmth when I came outside to do some greenhouse chores. And now, Monday morning, it’s springtime in Cañoncito! So it feels like we turned some hidden corner this weekend, and suddenly, all has changed.
Yet of course, it’s never so distinct. Perhaps more like rounding a gradual bend, revealing a changing landscape.
Photo: Ann Hunkins
After all, the feeders and valley trees are still full of our winter birds, juncoes especially, and pine siskins, along with a few of the hardier individuals among the marginally year-round species. So, too, the ground along the fenceline, home to my one semi-successful attempt at perennial plantings, remains frozen, though the shade-hugging crusty snow has retreated, lingering now in just a few small patches behind piñons. So indeed, this is a long, wide curve of seasonal change, rather than a sharp corner.
Though as I sit here on the front porch couch, one more mark of the change pulls me back yet another step, and reminds me that it’s a steady, eternal journey, in which the seasonal shifts, sudden though they may feel, are in fact moments along a never-ending turning of the great wheel. For today, here in early March at 35.52 degrees north latitude, the sun has climbed above the edge of the little roof protecting the porch (and still a couple hours before noon!)—I sit here on the couch with my face in the shade for the first time in months.
Our gentle, troubled, nourishing planet is no longer laying back in its northern-hemisphere-winter repose, the sun sliding low over the southern horizon….it’s rising day by day toward its equinox balance (the classic 23-degree globe-tilt oriented side-to the sun), and so we are blessed with more sun each day, and that refreshing sense of it actually shining down from some place more like “overhead.”
On we go, riding the great wheel, the earth spinning round our star, the seasons rolling north and south and back again as the Actic and Antarctic by turns lean deeply toward, then away from, its warming light, basking in their weeks of midnight sun and their months of long nights laced by brilliant aurora. And here in the planet’s temperate belts, where we’re graced to ride the wheel of seasonal change in a lovely yet moderate pulse, one day we might step outside and find that the long, steady turning has opened a door into that which we always long for: what comes next…….