Nothing is so beautiful as spring

At last a sunny day, which makes me think of the first line of Gerard Manley Hopkins's poem, "Spring." I also like this from the same poem: "The glassy peartree leaves and blooms, they brush the descending blue; that blue is all in a rush with richness."

Indeed, the descending blue.


Spring in California

I just returned from having spent ten days in California. Every year since my father's passing away, I go back there in early April to be with my family on the anniversary of his death. I find myself in the same place, at the same time, where everything seems the same but nothing really is. The same flowers bloom - my father's lilacs and peonies, roses in the neighbor's front yard, the dogwood in my sister's garden - but I see everything through the prism of his absence. Every flower I marvel at is another flower that my father will never see.

The days hurried past and here I am back in my own home. The strongest memory I've carried back with me is an afternoon spent alone with my oldest brother. The two of us picked oranges and sat talking under the grapefruit tree. There is much that separates us, but we are bound, as if by an invisible thread, by the things that our father taught us. As I sat there with the warmth of the sun on my back and my brother's voice filling the space between us, I felt my father's absence and presence all at once, and it made me more happy than I had been in a long time.


Heralds of Spring

It is said that no universally accepted event heralds the spring. Meteorologists marks the season's beginning on March 1. For astronomers and most of us, spring arrives on the vernal equinox, which falls somewhere around the 20th of March, depending on the year. Still others have a more personal marker for the start of the season: the first flush of the yellow daffodil, the return of birdsong in the early morning hour, or the first flower on the dogwood tree. In 1736, the English naturalist Robert Marsham started to document 27 "Indications of Spring." For 62 years, without interruption, he recorded the dates different trees came into leaf, flowers bloomed, frogs first croaked and butterflies appeared. He noted the first swallow of the year as they flew over Stratton Strawless in Norfolk at the end of their 6,000-mile journey from southern Africa. Marsham's observations became the basis of phenology, the study of the effects of the seasons on plants and animals.

We have passed the vernal equinox, and the day is now officially longer than the night, but I am still waiting for spring. The crocuses have come up, and the robins are back in town, but we've had a freezing rain for the last two days. The sun is now peeking out of the clouds, at the end of an unremittingly grey day, setting the brick buildings across the street aflame. I am heartened at the sight of my bleeding heart plants pushing through the ground and know that spring cannot be far away.