How easy it is to forget the beauty, the return, the awakening.
How easily the simple bird’s name escapes me year after year, until I use my field guide to identify him, again this year, as the same one who amazed me last year.
It is a rainy early spring day. The pour-forth has come again, not torrential but certainly heavier than mist.
And what is filling my view, right now as well as all morning, is the exuberant activity of birds outside my office window.
A downy woodpecker dominates the feeder, then a small flock of juncos, then a chickadee, then more juncos. Robins are as yellow-billed as ever, and the trio of Steller's jays has now come to act as a team to control the feeder.
The apple tree is loaded with buds: pale but ever-growing. I check on their progress every single day.
And it’s not just the feeder. Coyote scat is now a daily find in the yard. And the deer are coming in triplets and quadruplets…no fawns yet, but last year’s young and the mature male and female feed around the yard during all hours of light and darkness.
Even as I type this, two flickers have arrived: the vying among the flicker, junco, and jay astounds me. One flicker likes to rattle the metal drainpipe, pecking on it for all the world to hear. The past few days he has scooted along the eaves and I’ve been inches from his tail feathers pressing up against the window pane.
On another tree trunk the solo downy woodpecker searches for a meal.
But those tiniest ones—the chickadees—just flit to and fro in slightly bigger flocks than the juncos, and they do not vie with anybody; yet they frequently get a long turn enjoying the bounty.
The other day it was the cherry blossoms budding and flowering around town. I forgot about those, too.
Yesterday it was the alder leaves sprouting in leaf-packs aplenty.
Today it was the dark mouse who suddenly ran up and across my windshield as I drove home from the post office. (I squeamishly checked for a nest under the hood when I arrived home; luckily I didn’t find one.)
Earlier today, as I hung up from a client meeting on Skype, I looked out to see that particular plumage I knew but had forgotten from several seasons ago: orange and dark gray in stunning patterns, including the “necklace” across her throat: and Sibley reminded me that this is a varied thrush. I did my typical gasp-in-awe at the beauty of this very fat visitor. As I stared through binoculars, I got the premium view: her colors looked like wet paint, and her tail feathers actually dripped one oversized raindrop after another. She did not compete at the feeder but looked rather content perched in the tangle of twigs, surrounded by all those pearly buds. I talked to her through the window. I photographed her over and over again, all the while knowing that the dirty glass barrier between us would prevent any good picture results. But I didn’t care. Full with the delicious news my client had just delivered. Full with the sight of the backyard birds returning to the yard after a quiet winter.
And every year I forget how much I love the potential of springtime: the buds, the nests and eggs, the wandering wild ones, flowers to come and leaves to adorn, the rich smell of wet grass and fertile mud after an earthscent-less winter.
Everything is vibrating with aliveness and simple purpose. And I am agog, remembering, re-learning, and seeing anew. Perhaps this is the greatest gift of springtime: the reawakening from the amnesia, the slumber of the wintertime.
I don’t know if it’s …
the splendor of other seasons and my immersion in each one,
or the sense of rootedness—that this is so very much how it is: this weather, these creatures, this temperature,
or the clinging to permanence even when we know that everything, every season, is transient,
or the childlike feeling of timelessness,
… that nourishes the amnesia about how powerfully transformative the spring time is.
No matter to what this memorylessness is attributed, each year around this time, I find the blessings of springtime to be fresh, brand new baby glorious, incredible.
Miraculous. Actually: each renewal, each bud opening, each vibrant bird feather is testament to the holy flame of nature.
All blog images created & photographed by Jennifer J. Wilhoit unless otherwise noted. Please circulate images with photo credit: "©2018 JenniferJWilhoit/TEALarbor stories. AllRightsReserved."