The yard is warm and sunny today, sprinkled with blossoming weeds. A few weeks ago it was frozen and snowy.
This year January and February saw days warm enough for house repairs (replacing wood damaged by carpenter bees), followed closely by days too cold for anything but reading and sleeping.
Some days were strangely confused, cold with bright sunshine or warm with dreary skies.
Our annual writers’ weekend at the beach brought a little bit of everything.
March will likely bring a little bit more of everything, but hopefully it won’t get fountain-freezing cold again.
In the final weeks of September, one of the butterflies emerged with damaged wings. She couldn’t fly, so I kept her in the caterpillar habitat and gave her fresh clippings from the butterfly bush every day.
Sometimes I took her out of the enclosure and carried her around the yard, letting her sample marigolds and lantana and salvia.
When she died, a day or two before her two-week birthday, she had undeniably lived longer than she would have lived in the yard. But was it enough?
Was nectar enough, or did my butterfly regret her flightless wings and unfertilized eggs?
What does a butterfly, or a caterpillar, need from life?
Do they yearn for sunshine and plentiful food? Do they crave happiness? Do they grieve?
There’s a poem hiding in these questions, but it’s so well hidden that I can’t find where it starts. Not today, anyway. Not with a rainy cold front outside and a miserable cough inside.
My last swallowtail caterpillar molted into a chrysalis yesterday. Now I have twenty-five chrysalises ready for winter.
It’s an interesting idea, sleeping through winter. What if I could simply set my alarm for “spring” and call my blankets a chrysalis? On days like today, cough and all, it seems like a good idea. But what about snow? And holidays? Would I be sad, in the spring, that I had missed them? Would you?
I can’t remember noticing, before, how the light changes as spring progresses.
The yard’s surfaces absorb and reflect, soften and sharpen the sun’s new angle.
Bees appear to fly through light, not air.
And birds strike silhouette poses, as if eager to be photographed.
Is it all in my head, a side effect of spring euphoria? Or is it happening where you live, too?
If you live in the southern hemisphere, is it happening in reverse? Light reverting back to air, flattening against fall’s advance as bees and birds prepare for winter?
I usually count the first open-windows day as the first day of spring, but this year I confused the issue by cheating. One day last week, desperate for fresh air, I opened the windows and wore a coat in the house for a few hours. Which means I can’t count yesterday as the first.
February is always a tough month for me. Its cold, sun-starved days routinely trigger new bouts of depression and anxiety. March, on the other hand, is usually a month of recovery.
And if this year’s recovery has been slower to start and harder to sustain than previous years, it has at least begun.
The weather forecast promises a return of winter before the week is finished, but the lengthening days will not allow it to stay.
Soon the yard will be overrun and winter will fall away into memory, as it does every year.
Three days ago the yard was leafing out in anticipation of spring.
That was before winter tightened its icy grip.
I don’t expect the honeysuckle will sustain any permanent damage.
The hydrangea should also survive.
Because winter can’t hold on forever. The ice and snow will melt.
Soon I’ll be able to pry open the frozen gate and let spring edge a few steps further into the yard.