March in New England

“…So how does this dialogue of green begin?”

-From “Looking for Spring” by Jean Connors

I have felt bound, boundaried, all winter. Now it’s late afternoon, late March–Skies have turned grey and it’s spitting rain, wind is whipping tree branches around, temperature hovers in the low 40s. The snow recedes slowly.

The rhododendrons have suffered winter damage, many leaves are brown and curled. Hopefully the buds are OK and bloom will be good. It’s hard to imagine May will come with its brightly blooming flowers.

A few crocuses are up and blooming IMG_0224along the front of the house. The hellebore is still covered with snow but the epimedium is uncovered–I will rake away the old foliage so the flower stalks can come up unimpeded. The boxwood near the front door is still partially buried but I can see many broken branches–it might need a radical pruning.

This afternoon after work, I swept sand off the front walk and bird seed hulls off the porch. The hungry birds have dotted the front porch with poop–the railing and porch will need painting this year. The rose bush at the front of the driveway is still covered with a big pile of snow–I suspect it will need pruning down to the ground as will the spirea in the back, also buried under big snow piles.

I want to stride across the yard but the mounds of snow deter me. Instead I pick my way along the icy path to the backyard bird feeder–I wonder if the squirrels have finally found a way in to the feeders since they’re emptying really quickly these days. This is the second time I’ve filled feeders this week.

I went for a short walk before the rain came. My next door neighbors built a snowman during Saturday’s snowfall and it’s now two large snow balls sprawled in the yard with mittens attached to the smaller ball. Down the street I spot the remains of a snow tunnel built by an enterprising child. Snow can be fun, I remind myself.

This is March in New England after a long hard winter. Bird song is changing, I’ve seen and heard mourning doves, willow trees are turning yellow, I see buds on the maple, sap is flowing–these are small hopeful signs, the beginning of a dialogue with green, but spring still seems remote–a promise, a perhaps. Be in the present I whisper to myself, find the kernel of beauty in this moment.

Morning musing

I’m not a morning person. I don’t leap out of bed greeting the glorious morn. I savor the warmth of duvet and pillows pulled close, the slow drift in and out of sleep, the edge of light sneaking past the window shades when I open my eyes and then darkness again, the strange half dreams that happen at dawn.

 My cat has other ideas. At my first stirring she tunes up her complaints about an empty bowl. Sometimes I open my eyes to see her sitting at the end of the bed silently staring—I close my eyes again and soon feel the mattress shift slightly as she pads up the side of the bed to stand over me sniffing my breath. “Is she still alive?” I imagine her wondering (if she could wonder such things).

 And I have a job with a mandated arrival time so between imploring cat and job I have to act like a morning person. I slowly sit up, stretch, stand, and shuffle down the hall to the bathroom and then invite the yowling and purring cat to go outside so that I can have peace while I cope with the kitchen.

 I get the coffee started, pop toast in toaster, spoon cat food into cat’s dish, and then let the cat back inside. She races to her dish, meowing, and starts to eat. I take my coffee and toast and sit at the dining table, which is placed in front of a picture window winter2with a view of the birdfeeders, gardens, and trees. Right now the view is snow, snow, and more snow.

 I’m not a morning person but I’ve come to relish these few moments when I can sit by this window and drink coffee, munch on toast, watch the birds peck and nibble and squirrels chase each other. Except for the bird and squirrel activity it’s a static world in winter. On occasion I’ve seen an owl in the branches of one of the trees–every morning I look but rarely spot it. I know if I ventured out and looked closely I’d see an array of tracks but from the warmth of the house, viewed through glass, nothing moves. This is a pause, a time to breathe slowly. I sit forward on the edge of the chair so the cat can jump up behind me, her warm body pressed against my back. I sit some more, mind still on pause, before standing to begin the get-ready-for-work routine.

 What do you look forward to in your mornings?