Monday, January 25, 2010

SWEET SUNSHINE!


Look up…is that the moon we see?
Can't be, looks like the sun to me!
—Ricky Nelson, 1959, "It's Late"

Late, early, or possibly a miracle, seeing the sun this morning—however briefly—has been an unexpected blessing; soothing balm for the winter weary heart. Not to mention a genuine surprise. According to the National Weather Service's latest area forecast, today is supposed to be cloudy and overcast, with snow showers this afternoon. Not exactly news, except for the possible snow part. Otherwise, dense overcast has been the norm for what seems like days on end. For suffers of SAD (seasonal affective disorder) the unrelieved gloom has made them them depressed, listless, sleepy, craving sweets and starches, and moody as rats in a box. This morning's brief shot of actual sunlight was doubtless refreshing therapy.


Sycamores upstream from the cottage,
their white trunks lit dramatically.


When the sunshine came, suddenly, just as I sat down at the desk having returned to my work room following breakfast, the light looked odd, almost spooky—a bright beam, coming from a low point on the eastern horizon and sweeping westward across the yard and river. Dramatic sidelight which lit the trunks of the sycamores leaning along the far bank upstream from the cottage. The trees' white bark absolutely glowed again the dark backdrop of sky.

The riverbank critters—feathered and furred—certainly seemed energized by the sunlight. Bird traffic at the feeders increased noticeably within moments of the sun's appearance. The Cooper's hawk executed a flashing pass-through around the cottage, temporarily scattering the early meal party, but otherwise doing no damage. I think he may have just been showing off, or perhaps gave in to a moment of devilment, hoping to frighten the breakfasting crowd—like a teenager jumping out of a closet at a roomful of kindergartners and yelling, "Boo!" Squirrels chased each other through the treetops. The Carolina wren cut loose with his merry Sweet 'tater! Sweet 'tater! Sweet 'tater! Sweet! song. The pileateds over on the island began yammering maniacally. I hustled out and made a few photos. Moon the dog took herself a little di-do run across the grass.


The first green daffodil shoots—so encouraging!


Looking around, I noticed a bit of green near the cottage wall and ambled over for a closer inspection. Oh my! The green proved to be the first tentative shoots of some of the spring bulbs I've planted all along the foundation—probably the earliest variety of daffodils. A handful of green here, another there. Several dozen plants sticking their emerald periscopes up for a precursory survey. Oh, my! Though I didn't think the few minutes of sunlight had simultaneously popped those green tendrils from their underground beds, I do know they weren't up and visible Saturday because I filled the nearby seed feeder then, and would certainly have noticed such an eye-catching reassurance of the season's progression.

On this planet, light and life are all but synonymous—at least to the majority of plants and animals along the riverbank. I don't mind a week or two of dingy gray days; but I also didn't realize how much I would enjoy even a few minutes of strong sunlight.

Ahh-h-h, sweet sunshine. Neither predicted nor expected, but welcomed by one and all.



18 comments:

Lynne at Hasty Brook said...

Please- oh please send some my way to the frozen dark northland. I can't remember the last sunshine. I think it was nine days ago. Blech. We had a long weekend of gray and rain- YES RAIN in January in Minnesota! Of course then it all froze, now it's snowing on top of the ice and we're headed to sub-zero tomorrow.
I know I'm whining.
I can't help it.
I'm still reeling from the Vikings' loss last night. It was painful. And I have some flu and fever/chills. And it's snowing and the wind is blowing like crazy.
You can cluck at me if you want.
I've never seen a sycamore tree here. I wonder of we have them this far north. I think I should take some advil and shut up now.

Scott said...

I was cleaning up a perennial bed next to the house on our sunny Saturday here in the Mid-Atlantic and exposed daffodil sprouts about four inches high. I freaked out--"Oh, no! I'm gonna' kill them by exposing them before their time!" But in my experience, they'll do fine.

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

Lynne…

Our last bit of sunshine was either 11 or 13 days ago, can't remember which, but a cold, bright day. Since that time it has warmed up all the was to 50˚F, yesterday, though it rained all day. Lots of damp semi-cold, which to my way of thinking is worse than actual cold. Now it is 33˚F and falling, snow predicted (the first flakes are just now starting), with snow predicted daily until Friday and highs in the mid-20s.

This morning's sun lasted about 30 minutes. Tiny patches of blue sky, but mostly the sun finding holes as it arose.

I don't believe you have sycamores. They're huge, lovely, and interesting trees, which like to grow on riverbanks. In fact, you can follow the course of a distant stream—even a little country brook—by following the easily visible lines of white-trunked sycamore marking each bank. I'll do a post about them one of these days. Ohio is prime sycamore country/

Sorry about your Vikings. Sometimes you're the chicken, sometimes you're the Junebug. My advice, forget the Advil…take a Xanax.

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

Scott…

I'm no flower expert, but for what it's worth, I've watched daffodils, crocus, and snowdrops poke their heads up through the soil, or get accidentally uncovered in mid-winter, and don't remember any of them being harmed, however premature.

Still, like you, whenever I accidentally reveal their green shoots, I always think, "Oh, no!" and hastily cover them back up, tucking them in as quickly as possible. And I feel a niggle of guilt and worry until they actually bloom come real spring.

KGMom said...

You have daffodils shoots? Hmm--seems a tad early. I suspect we are all ready for some green.

Kelly said...

...it was weird seeing that sun...and fabulous! Ours didn't last long enough for me to get out to get any photos, though. We were back to cloud cover by 9:30. It's snowing right now (and very pretty).

Bernie said...

This post has given me hope....our ground is buried under 4 feet of snow but I love seeing your recent photo's. I love how seeing the new sprout from the ground after a long winter, gives me new life as well. Thanks Grizz for sharing.
......:-) Hugs

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

KGMom…

I have maybe a dozen varieties of daffodils/jonquils planted all around the yard—several hundred bulbs all told. I love spring daffodils and always buy a couple of boxes of 50-100 bulbs and stick them out in October. These shoots look like they're from some early miniature ones. I could certainly be wrong. Also have lots of crocus (love crocus almost as much as daffodils) and three or four other spring bulb type plants. I need all the encouragement I can come up with about March when it suddenly turns more wintry than it was back in January. Green shoots and flowers in bloom keeps me from drinkin' likker and chasin' cars.

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

Kelly…

Yup, just a quick dose of rather dramatic crosslight, then…show's over. Had some pretty heavy snow squalls later in the afternoon. There's a good dusting on the ground now, enough to make it white. Wonder what tomorrow will bring?

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

Bernie…

I suspect we all face winter on faith in the eternal cycle of seasons, a valiant belief that no matter how dark the days, cold the nights, and deep the snows, spring will eventually come. But it's still hard not to listen to that little Doubting Thomas voice from time to time. A few green shoots poking bravely into the otherwise barren world can bolster our hope more than all the calendars and almanacs ever printed.

Delwyn said...

Hi Grizzled

I enjoyed this post for the way you have described the spirit of a new Spring which epitomizes hope.

Funnily the 'SAD' you refer to is also an acronym for a rite of passage here in Au where oldies take to their campervans and caravans and tour the country. It stands for:

See Australia and Die...!!!

Happy days

Jain said...

Welcomed by one and all, indeed! I saw exactly 30 seconds of sunlight yesterday and again this morning--nowhere near enough to shake these winter doldrums. I haven’t seen enough white to long for green, but still I’m blue. :o(

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

Delwyn…

I bet the extended tour is better than the acronym. Yours is a beautiful country.

In contrast to this morning's post, the temperature has dropped and it's pouring the snow, the ground covered, the night sky thick with swirling flakes. Spring hopes might be a bit harder to muster—but I like snow and snow storms, and I'll go to bed happy and eager to see tomorrow's look.

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

Jain…

Actually, I'm still doing well with winter—especially now that it snowing again. It's so lovely out with the snow coming down—almost fast and furious enough to call a blizzard, though lacking the real wind and icy teeth. But fun and the sort of night I love to look forward to come winter.

I'm not going to start pining for spring just yet. Sunshine or not.

Scattering Lupines said...

DITTO !!!! I have been reveling in the sunshine here today!

The Weaver of Grass said...

Do so agree about the sunlight Scribe - the quality of that light on the tree trunks is wonderful - I think it may be a combination of low sun and water reflection - but it does the soul good to see it. And those daffodil shoots tell us that Spring is lurking in the background. It is February next week and February is a nice short month. Come March and we know Spring is just around the corner. I enjoy every single picture you post of that river of yours.

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

Scattering Lupines…

No sunshine for us here today. Waaahh! Snow on the ground, 23˚F, birds at the feeders, a fire on the hearth, and I'm about to go bake a couple of loaves of bannana bread.

None of that, BTW, being a complaint.

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

Weaver…

The morning light off the sycamores is always lovely—but one of the things that made yesterday's illumination more dramatic was that dark sky which "popped" the white trunks.

Daffodil shoots or not, I'm not going to allow myself to get too anxious for spring. Not with all of February and most of March to have to get through before even a die-hard optimist can look around a believe spring is at the threshold.

I'll make sure to run lots of river photos, along with regular cardinal shots. We aim to please!