Monday, April 18, 2011

Spring is Here…?

The weather has been atrocious this spring in the Pacific Northwest. We had record rainfall in March…something like 27 days of rain out of the month's 31. And it was COLD rain…often not much warmer than the mid-forties in the valleys, and lots of snow in the higher elevations. I suppose there is the argument that 2/3 of the month of March is still officially winter; but even in winter we can generally expect a few sunny days here and there.

April has not started out to be much of an improvement. We've had rain, hail, thunderstorms and everything in between. (Though I can't quite figure out where the t-storms are coming from; those are supposed to result from the clash between cold air and warm air. What warm air, I beg to inquire…?) The days when it actually doesn't rain, the sun sort of peeks out for awhile, but as soon as it seems it might actually provide a few BTU's, the clouds roll in and the sun goes into hiding.

Forget working in the garden. The garden soil is the consistency of gumbo. Really c-o-l-d gumbo. Not good for sinking my poor arthritic fingers into, and not good for small plants to dip their tiny roots into. So the greenhouse is filling up with plants waiting for conditions to improve.

Yet, though it seems we're stuck in winter, Nature's cycle continues. The flowering trees bloomed late and sporadically, but bloom they did…wasting the display of their finery against a roiling grey sky. Daffodils bravely provided bright spots in the landscape when the sun would not. My hydrangeas, shrubs and Japanese maples are stubbornly leafing out in the cold and gloom. And, of course the grass is green and growing again, but it's too wet to mow it. Walking in my lawn is like treading on a gigantic sodden sponge, ankle deep in overgrown grass.

The parade of bird life goes on no matter what. The grosbeaks that have been with me all winter (and have managed to pack away about 160 lbs of sunflower seed) are still raiding the feeders by the dozens several times a day. The junco population is dwindling, as the hardier ones begin to make their way to their summering grounds in the hills and mountains. New faces (beaks?) have made their appearance in my backyard scene: We have a white-crowned sparrow, and the rufous hummingbirds are back, battling the over-wintering Anna's for domination of the feeders. (This year, however, the male Anna's is not giving up without a fight!)

This morning, as I roamed the yard filling the feeders, I heard the calls of a large flock of Sandhill cranes as they spiraled higher and higher, looking to catch the thermal airstream that will carry them back to their breeding grounds. As I waved goodbye to the cranes, a chipper little "orca-bird" dipped and spun over my head, and the wave became a salute to the return of the swallows.

And so it goes. And soon…SOON…I will have the luxury of more time than I have had in a really LONG time, to snuggle close to the breast of Mother Earth and lose myself in her heartbeat.

1 comment:

  1. We still have a few juncos. I've seen one of white crowned sparrows. Heard gulls nearby yesterday as I brought in the paper. Envy you the cranes. And you always hear geese heading from one river to the other in the mornings. And mud, mud, mud. However, today the sun is shining and they're "predicting" partly cloudy all week. Fingers crossed.