Thursday, April 20, 2006


I love this time of year.
I love the way the early-mid-morning sun gleams through the baby leaves.
I love that day when, all of a sudden, all the bracken and brambles have burst their buds, and a mist of green lies over undeveloped space.
I love spring flowers: daffodils, violets, lilacs.
I grew up in exurbia. We lived in a big, rambling ex-farmhouse, surrounded by woody tracts. We had one neighbor. Our street was so unused, it didn't get a yellow dividing line until I was well into high school. Across the street was a stream, a field, and more, seemingly endless forest and hills. Once upon a time, there had been apple orchards; there was a small pocket of survivors at the top of the first hill, behind the other trees that had grown up since then.
My parents planted a strip of daffodils across the edge of our lawn, right behind the old stone wall. The lawn came down to the top of the wall, rather than behind the wall, so the daffodils were visable from the house, from the road, from the field across the street. Every fall, my father would cover up the bulbs with fallen leaves for winter; every spring, I would watch for the earliest, bravest daffodils sending spikes through their winter blanket. It was a minor event when it was warm enough to rake the leaves off; sometimes, we had to be careful of the daffodils who did not follow our definition of warm.
Spring also meant walks in the woods across the street, walks up the unused road. We had to go look for coltsfoots (coltsfeet?), the first flowers of spring. We had to see if the bluets had started blooming yet, if the pussytoes were showing their soft flowers. We had to see if there were any new violets. We had to make sure that the pussy willows had put out their catkins. We had to check the gnome houses for signs of winter living.
Spring meant we could open the windows and listen to the peepers at night. We knew it was getting warm then. Soon, the bank of lilacs planted directly across from us by the long-gone families who had planted the apple orchard would be blooming. Soon, our own white lilac, and our own purple lilac would bloom too. Meanwhile, there was rhubarb to eat, and vegetable gardens to plan.
Soon, it would be hot. Soon, the rose would bloom, and the crayfish would be scuttling around the stream. Soon, the road would put out tar bubbles. Soon, the wild mulberry down the road would bloom and start bearing fruit. But now there were daffodils, and violets, and green mists in the trees.


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