This morning as my coffee brewed and the early morning sun began to burn off the cool of the previous night, my mind drifted outside of my home to speculate on the changes that this long winter’s late spring would be causing to my surroundings. Soon my thoughts were interrupted by the chatter of others, and as my children and wife and parents emerged from their various bedrooms to discuss our day’s plans, the idea of a walk by a local creek seemed to hold universal appeal.
After breakfast, we went down to the end of the street on which I live, an area that features a newly expansive wetland created by enterprising beavers which drains into a lake.
Turtles sunned themselves on a log, some double stacked to take advantage of the warm spring rays. A goose set on her clutch of eggs, dignified and quiet but on guard as she eyed us from her island nest. The soft quacking of a male Mallard came to us on the breeze, and soon we spotted him ducking in and out of little coves along the shore, plunging his head into the shallows in search of food. Overhead came the exhilarating cry of a red-shouldered hawk, a high keening sound that told only of the joy of flight.
As we progressed along the creek, the verdant grass beneath us erupted in blazes or gold and purple and blue: violets and bluets, sweet phlox, and aromatic foliage in myriad patterns. Tangles of wild rose clung to the banks of the river, in shady spots midstream rocks carpeted in moss rose from the cheerful babble of the creek.
Everywhere came the sounds of birds: a tufted titmouse perched above us, busily flitting from limb to limb, calling to his partner in the woods who echoed his calls in return. My mother, eighty years young, bent over to pluck wildflowers for study, digging deep into her memory to retrieve botanical names. Her mind was quickened by the promises of spring, by newly opened leaves, by the buds that still concealed their blooms, by the riot of color and greens that be tokens the arrival of spring.
For a leisurely mile we walked, stopping often, crouching down to speculate on the similarities of this leaf to that one, on the color variations of the violets, on the eventual blooms of the wild rose that were still far off in the future. A drake followed us for a ways, offering his companionable quacks; a Canada goose bobbed beside us in stately fashion before finding sustenance on the creek bank in a pool of shade. Red buds blazed in the sun; a plum opened its delicate, feathery blossoms over the water; dogwoods reveled in the warm sun in bursts of white and pink.
I inhaled deeply, sucking in the the scents of sun-baked bark and grass and flowers and fresh smell of new vegetation.
Spring had arrived, finally.