Wednesday, February 18, 2009

GREEN MESSENGERS

A thick overcast blankets the sky. A light drizzle has been falling since just after dawn. Though the thermometer outside my workroom window reads 41 degrees, the dim light and dampness makes it feel a dozen degrees colder. Indeed, according the local weather reports, snow is on the way along with a corresponding drop in temperatures. I suppose it is therefore odd that today—in spite of conditions—my mind is filled with thoughts of spring. Isn’t such thinking a bit premature? More fantasy than fact? Not at all! Why? Because yesterday I found certain proof of vernal forthcoming in a few green tips. They appeared overnight, as if by magic—a half-inch high already when I spotted them just after dawn, three-quarters of an inch by day’s end. They are located under my workroom window, on the southwest side of the cottage, within a foot of the house. A sunny location, protected from wind, and in soil perhaps a degree or two warmer than soil a yard distant—a slight microclimate courtesy of the thick limestone wall’s radiant heat. These emerald messengers are crocus, up from bulbs I planted the first autumn after moving to the riverside. I love crocus, and I put out a hundred of them in little patches around the property—along with daffodils, squills, and hyacinths. I added a similar number the following year, and a few more last fall. So far as I could determine from a quick search yesterday afternoon, the plants beneath the window are the first to poke up—scouts for the purple, yellow, and white assemblages to come. It isn’t unusual for crocus to begin blooming well before the official advent of spring. My mother, who was also a crocus fan, had many bulbs planted along the south wall of her house, and around the home’s front porch and steps area, which faced west. This latter location took the brunt of incoming weather. And yet, those front-yard crocus were the first to bloom, always. Most years they appeared in late-February; and most years their bright blooms endured at least two or three snows. Sometimes the flowers wilted permanently; more often, however, the damage—bad as it looked—was only temporary; given a day or two they’d spring upright and reopen, looking only slightly worse for wear. Crocus are as tough as they are jaunty. Will my plants jump-the-gun and bloom before winter’s worst is over? Maybe. If you believer the forecasters, we’re certainly going to have some snow over the next few days. But these first crocus aren’t that close to blooming yet, and I don’t think the cold will hurt their exposed tips. In the meantime, I’m now allowing myself to think green thoughts, to conjure up notions of spring—with new grass, birdsong, wildflowers, and fish eager to take my flies. If I need reassurance that this all isn’t just a premature dream, I can peer out the window at those little green fingers reaching for the sun. The crocus know spring is on the way…and I believe them!

10 comments:

giggles said...

Hip hip HURRAY!!!!!!!!!!!

Must tell one who would appreciate... I happened to be at the back picture window, the one that looks out to the bird feeders....and saw a small raptor, Coop or sharpy swoop by!!!!!!! Not a smaller bird to be seen, they must've known they were being spied upon! Way cool...thrilling!

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Giggles…

I see my meal-shopping Cooper's every day, zooming into the yard, hopping around the discarded Christmas tree, stomping around with a look on his face that says, "Huh! Where'd they all go?" It never ceases to amaze me how completely the potential-meal birds can so suddenly and completely disappear—and apparently the hawk is equally amazed, and frustrated.

It is a cool scenario to witness.

And just so you don't think I've forgotten, I'm still stalking the pileated. Almost had a shot yesterday morning—but just as I got the camera up, that confounded woodpecker spotted some movement, yelped, and flew off across the river to the island.

I'd sooner try and photograph a wild turkey than a pileated woodpecker. But I'm a'tryin'.

The Weaver of Grass said...

I love crocus too. I should have a few out by the end of the week.The yellow ones come out first here - and unfortunately the sparrows love to peck at them. My favourites are the shiny purple ones and the purple and white striped ones - they somehow remind me of old-fashioned boiled sweets. I can't wait for thenm to come. Hope you don't get too much snow.

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Weaver…

My favorites are the solid purple ones—the darker the better. Then the bright yellows. I have maybe a dozen different shades out, and intend adding to it every year. I'm even considering sneaking across the river and putting a few crocus and daffodils on the highest part of the island, so I'll have their bright blooms to look at when I check out the river.

Raph G. Neckmann said...

It's never premature to think of Spring! I start in November ... but I do enjoy Winter too. February has such a lovely anticipatory feel to it. I've just been looking (and smelling the perfume of) mahonia in flower, and admiring red dogwood stems against the dark snow-free soil.

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Raph…

I like winter, too. And I'm not yet longing for spring—not in the way I'll begin to feel in mid-March. We've had a sort of mild interlude here. Typical February, and nothing to get excited about or cause you to mistake it for anything other than what it is—a momentary pause while winter catches its breath.

We're at least a month behind you, maybe six weeks. Snow is predicted, and colder weather. Today I simply turned my thoughts to days ahead without turning loose my heart.

February and I have had this dance before…

giggles said...

No... I haven't given up.... others are keeping me inspired... Have you ever visited "Wildsidenaturetours"? I follow their blog..... They are local to me and I happened to meet Kevin on my daughter's birding trip to Cape May.... I think I've mentioned it before...here? They post great birding info and photos, both local and international.... Anyway, his colleague posted some pictures a coupla days ago....

But don't, please don't , let that stop you in your quest.... I want to see YOUR pileateds! (OH! Wait! I'm not sure that came out the right way!? I'm crackin' myself up...!)

Raph G. Neckmann said...

'February and I have had this dance before ...' - I love that!

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Giggles…

YOU WANT TO SEE MY PILEATEDS!!! (You gotta imagine a Groucho Marx heavy-duty fit of eyebrow twitching.)

Okay. I know what you meant. I'm doing my part. Talk to the woodpecker.

I'll visit the blog you mentioned, too.

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Raph…

Sounded better than, "been here, done this," didn't it?

'Tiz a fact, February and I have indeed had our turns on the dance floor. We have each other pegged pretty good. You don't fool friends, you just listen to the music and sway comfortably together.