Sunday, March 23, 2008

In Like a Lion

Well, spring has sprung and its pull is strongly felt by me; I want to play outside. I got to do so, for a bit yesterday…it was sunny and almost warm here in my little mountain community.

A friend told me at this time of year she feels a religious excitement and emotional uplifting with her church’s activities during this Easter week. She thought perhaps I would not understand it, but I see a correlation between this time and the renewal that Spring brings; something not lost, I’m sure, by the churches of ancient times interested in enrolling pagans into their way of thinking. It is an exciting and uplifting time; buds are swelling on trees and shrubs, bright red, asparagus-looking Peony sprouts are pushing up through the tattered, brown leaves of last year.
I wandered around and checked the grass seed I’d spread across my lawn a week ago, hoping to shore up thin spots before more weeds take hold; it looks like the ravenous blackbirds prefer the sunflower-seeds and chipped corn I put out to distract them. I found several cold-hardy Oriental Poppies already thick and green with fuzzy, serrated leaves clumped several inches tall; and the Sedum, called Dragon’s Blood, which I stuck around the edges and corners of a dry bed are already coming in shockingly pink and vibrant.

I am ready to get dirty…but the pile of old horse manure another friend gave me last year is still frozen; I cannot even pull the already long, sharp, green blades of Bermuda-grass that encroach the double-dug circles I where planted new shrubs and small trees at the far reaches of my yard.
The muddy earth is still frozen just below the surface and the sunny day was just one of the teasing-rituals my ‘church’ offers up this time of year that plunks the strings of my heart and wells up excitement and yearning to be outside again. I am well rested and looking forward to gardening.

Suddenly, every bird in my yard disappears…so I looked around and found a regular visitor; what I believe is a red-tailed hawk who hunts here. [a couple years later, I now believe that is probably a Swainson's Hawk.] The big birds, owls and eagles, like to land in the very tall willow trees and cottonwoods that edge the river near which I live. For some scale, this hawk is perched half-way up a 100' tree, maybe 75' from where I was standing. Someday I’ll get a good photograph of this beautiful bird.

For about a week I have not seen the Rosy-finches or Evening Grosbeaks that were regularly stopping at my feeders this winter. It seems that as the weather warms, they come less and less often; suddenly appearing only if it snows. Sure enough, after yesterday’s taste of spring, I awoke to a couple inches of snow…and a couple of these bigger finches, but the lions-grip of winter is not yet over. Still, it felt like an Easter treat and brought a big, warm smile.

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