Spring has been announced by the bright green leaves that are emerging and by the ephemerals that are popping up before the tree canopy is full. The white trillium have pushed through the carpet of leaves and winter’s debris to open up to the bright sunshine. Each flower has three white petals that bloom above the three broad leaves. For a very brief time the woodlands of northern Minnesota and Wisconsin are brighter with a carpet of white trillium.
It’s the shortest season here in the North. We’ve had snow and cold, freeze warnings in the mornings, and then it’s spring. All around plants, birds, animals are emerging. The ground is littered with leaves, pine needles, twigs, and branches. The trees are budded so there is no shade over the garden. But if you get down to ground level and look closely there are signs of spring. The trillium are up above the dead leaves and some of the other wildflowers are poking their shoots and leaves up. These ferns are about eight inches tall now but they will be hip height in a matter of a week. The fernheads are wrapped tightly in a ball but they will unfurl and spread their own shade over the ground below. And quickly the temperatures will rise, the humidity will increase, the lightning will crack and the thunder will roll, and spring will have passed to summer.
The darkness of winter is giving way to the lightness of spring. The warmer temperatures have brought new sprouts and new leaves. Everywhere there’s an undercurrent of blossoming and coming forth. The birds are back and singing with glee, the grasses are greening and growing, and the plants that were hidden throughout the winter are reemerging above ground. The serviceberry trees in the yard are blossoming and bringing their lightness to our world. They are delicate and small but their brightness is welcome. We watched a recent light rainfall cause each blossom to dip down as the rain droplets touched it, reminding me of a piano being tenderly played — pulling each note’s sound out with the light touch of fingers.
Spring in the upper Midwest is a roller coaster ride – sun and warmth one day followed by cold winds and snow the next. We have our ups and downs. But we also know that spring, and eventually summer, will prevail. Until then we surround ourselves with the hopes and colors of springtime.
I bought some tulips at the store recently to help brighten the day. Their pale colors were lovely and they reminded me of the delicateness of spring with a whisper of pale pink throughout the petals. The blooms were tight when I first brought them home, but they slowly opened up. As they got larger their weight caused them to bend forward, sometimes falling one against another. The lightness and support of these two tulips struck me as the definition of softness.
With a lightness in my step and a smile on my face, I stepped out into 48 degrees and sunshine yesterday afternoon for a walk. The sun was warm and it seemed that everyone was outside taking advantage of the lovely weather. My thoughts turned to spring and the hope of flowers and blooming trees. Tulips seem to be one of those “perfect” symbols of springtime, turning their blooms up towards the sun.
This morning I woke up to snow. Sometimes it was coming down quite heavily. My brightness of yesterday and hope for spring was certainly dimmed. But today is still February, and this snow will probably repeat again before the season turns all the way to spring. I shoveled the heavy wet snow, turned my face to the sun that had broken through the clouds, and tried to imagine the green grass and the blooming trees and tulips.