What my lens acquires in early March is usually winter weary images of snow – snowflakes falling out of the sky, snow on the trees and in the garden, deep clean snow wrapping the countryside. Along comes a brief poem by Wendell Berry, and it makes winter new again for me, reawakens my pleasure in what is happening beyond the windows and over the hill. However many meditations on snow I found myself doing this winter (and there were many), I don’t think I ever considered it in such rare and eloquent light.
A restless time, these middling weeks in February, night dreams of bloodroot, trout lilies and columbines, sunlight falling greenly through the trees and songbirds in the canopy. In my sleep, I wander the fully leafed out understory, follow clouds across the western field, harken to bullfrogs in the beaver pond and bees in the wild apple trees by the fence.
I measure returning sunlight and shadows in the landscape, watch snowdrifts receding from trails through the woods, leaving puffs of snow like cotton wool and a fine lacy fretwork behind as they go. I listen for owls, for the sound of maple sap dripping sotto voce down tree trunks. What a long dark winter it has been. Oh verdant springtime come softly, and please come soon.
Day by day, the winter sky is becoming bluer, and on clear days, the light dazzles these old eyes. The splendid shadows falling across fields, gardens and buildings are taking on on springtime sharpness and depth and length, and the pools of indigo shadow here and there are so vivid and intense one could almost dive into them.
The chickadees have switched their repertoire to springtime courting songs, and mirabile dictu, I discovered the first buds of spring in the woods this week. Standing waist deep in snow at the time, I could do little except lurch about and exclaim, but in my heart I was dancing. The bright green glass ball swaying festively to and fro in my neighbor’s maple wears a blithe cap of snow, and it too has tiny buds.