The rain glides down the still bare branches
of the trees, washing them clean for springtime.
You can smell it in the air now, even though,
on days like these, bathed in clouds, the world
looks as much like November as it does late March.
Until you notice the buds bursting on the tips
of the trees. Until you spot the tips of tulips
and daffodils poking above the soil. Until you notice
how this wet, cold air is alive with birdsong.
Then you know.
I see you, brave little leaves,
poking up from last year’s survivors
into the late March air even though
the nights still promise more frost.
I understand; I came early, too.
You can only wait so long before
you just have to make the leap.
Comfort is fine, as far as it goes,
but oh, the irresistible lure
of fresh adventures!
You can never go home, they say. What they mean
is that the place you remember isn’t the same
as what’s there now. Everything changes, you know.
Things put on new faces or disappear. New things
tower from places where there was nothing before.
So when you cruise in, it takes time to get your bearings,
even though this is the place where you were born.
You have to scout around a bit, act the part of a tourist
until the familiar emerges from behind the new mask,
until the memories float up from the fragments time
let stand. They’ll be enough to anchor you.
Home is home, the place where your heart
Began beating, where you took your first breath.
You hold what was. It shows you what is.
Together you can make your tomorrows.
A great, winged cloud, full of radiance,
hovered over the wetland’s pond
where, just this week, the ring-necked ducks
arrived, and claimed it as the perfect place
to build their nests and raise their young.
They were only the first of many birds
who will summer here in this protected space,
home to beaver, deer, coyotes, rabbits, raccoons,
and more, countless flying, swimming, bounding more.
And soon the air will be filled with their scents
and their sounds and with choruses sung
by hundreds of peepers and bullfrogs.
And the great cloud, hovering overhead,
seemed somehow to be conferring its blessing,
to be anointing this piece of sacred ground.
Ghostlike cattails line the lake edge,
standing straight and tall as an old guard
of soldiers, offering a salute in honor of spring.
Their velvety brown pods spill their stuffing
onto the ice-capped lake, into the pool
of melted water at the field’s edge.
Their once-sleek leaves are brittle now
and broken, but still they stand, proud
to have endured the onslaughts of winter,
to be standing in the new spring’s sun.
Now and then red winged blackbirds,
just arrived from the south, perch
atop them, sounding a salutation,
and the cattails hold beneath
their weight and are glad.
The budding trees dance their welcome to the Springtime.
You never know when it will be the last one. Anything
can happen, and for all its brilliance and potential, mankind
has once more pushed this spinning globe right to the brink.
Nevertheless, today the sky is blue and sap is rising,
and robins dart in little flocks above the fields. It’s true,
what the poet said about hope. It springs eternal. So
let us dance and may the life within us swell in gladness.
Why are we here at all, if not to give thanks?
It’s not like you flip a switch and here it is,
full-blown, with lush greens, tulips in blossom.
Spring is more subtle than that, refined,
you might say. She glides in slowly,
sometimes mild and sunny, sometimes
cloaked in rain and snow. But her light
proclaims what her weather may not say,
and new birds were singing at her dawn.
Keep faith. These are but her first hours.
Spring has miracles up her sleeve.
Like a signature quickly fading,
One last curve of snow lines the road.
One last layer of ice floats on the lake.
The winter-bleached fields wait for the plow.
The transition feels seamless, a gradual flowing
of seasons, one into another. And yet, in this moment,
a robin’s call marks the long winter silence
with its alert: something new comes.
Even the lakes are thawing now.
Spring’s victory carves its V in the melting ice.
The first mourning doves sit on the wire,
and at the wetlands, the ribbon neck ducks
have come and the red winged blackbirds.
So winter rolls up its glitter, its sheets of white,
and heads south. Farewell, season of sleep.
We are done with you and your cold.
Still, we will hold your beauty in mind’s store,
your long smooth curves and bare trees,
the fall of moonlight on shimmering snow,
the clarity of your starlight, the frost
with which you etched our windows.
You reminded us of our capacity to endure,
of our resolve in the face of challenges.
You brought us days of play and laughter
and let us rediscover the pleasures
of soft blankets and warm socks.
And so we thank you as you leave us,
and today we sing you our farewell.
What great good fortune, little wood sorrel,
to find you at the store, posing as a shamrock
on this St. Patrick’s Day. Wear what name
you will, your mothy wings so gladden
with their green, and how sweetly you sing
Springtime to our wintered-over hearts.