Monday, February 2, 2009

Cross-Quarter Day

At Rivergarth, the signs of spring are sparse and far between just now. There is the change in the behavior of ducks, and the stars of bethlehem breaking ground, but these are more indicative of late winter than a hint of spring. When I hear the first wood duck keening down the river, then that will be spring.

When I was teaching, I had a student in his mid teens bemoan the lateness of spring. I told him, "Just wait. It's soon, very, very soon." A couple of weeks later he came to me with wonder in his voice, "You were right. How did you know?"

I could have laughed, "Because Spring always comes, young padawan, don't you know?!" But this young man was serious and believed I had presaged the return of spring. I won't forget my sense of discovery in finding that the young have not lived enough springs to know without a doubt that spring will come again. The winter is never yet so long that it can not be endured.

Today is the Bloggers Poetry Event, but though I searched for days, I could not find the right poem to express my sense of quiet waiting and wonder as winter lingers on. In the end I found, instead, a piece of beautiful prose. This excerpt is about birds, and it is the birds who keep us company through the white and gray days. It's the birds, too, even before the earliest bulbs begin to bloom, who call out spring.

From Walden, by Henry David Thoreau

Meanwhile also came the chickadees in flocks, which, picking up the crumbs the squirrels had dropped, flew to the nearest twig and, placing them under their claws, hammered away at them with their little bills, as if it were an insect in the bark, till they were sufficiently reduced for their slender throats. A little flock of these titmice came daily to pick a dinner out of my woodpile, or the crumbs at my door, with faint flitting lisping notes, like the tinkling of icicles in the grass, or else with sprightly day day day, or more rarely, in spring-like days, a wiry summery phe-be from the wood-side. They were so familiar that at length one alighted on an armful of wood which I was carrying in, and pecked at the sticks without fear. I once had a sparrow alight upon my shoulder for a moment while I was hoeing in a village garden, and I felt that I was more distinguished by that circumstance than I should have been by any epaulet I could have worn....

At Rivergarth, we notice the simple signs, wonder large at the small joys, like Thoreau did at Walden...although, our chickadees sing "dee-dee-dee."

1 comment:

Matt Stone said...

Hi, read your comments over at Morehead's Musings and thought I'd check you out. I'm an online buddy of his and I appreciate your openness.