Friday, February 25, 2011

The tree guys, a leading indicator

The tree trimming guys were here yesterday and the day before.

The fact that they came shows they know their time for winter trimming is dwindling.  Just as sailors are said to be able to feel the loom of the land, so tree guys can evidently feel the loom of spring: rising sap and mud are coming, oak wilt will soon be on the prowl.  One swallow does not a summer make, and the tree guys don't make a spring, either.  Yet the lengthening days evidently shook them out of hibernation to finally do the trimming contracted for last fall. Not spring itself, but a harbinger of spring, perhaps. A leading indicator, as the economists say--a sign, an omen.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Tipping towards the light, faintly

When little master TECH and I pulled out of the driveway at 7:15 on the way to his school this morning, we were greeted with more light than we've had for a long time.  Two feet of snow sheeting the landscape adds considerable brightness, yet even snow cannot dispel darkness.  The sun has evidently begun her long slanting climb to the zenith she will achieve in mid summer.  Every day she rises a little further north along the horizon, every day hoists herself a little higher overhead at noon and today her climb brightened a drive which seems to have been undertaken in darkness for the past two months.

With the greater light, life faintly shimmers.  A flock of mourning doves here-and-gone, shockingly fast on the wing. The crows, their daytime flocks smaller, become sporadically territorial. The buds on the silver maple swell larger every day, a wonder to me--what living mechanism can make that happen with day after day of single digit temperatures?

Yet there is still a long way to go.

No tracks disturb the snow.  The little creatures huddle together, nested tight, breathing so slow they'd look dead if you could see them. On overcast days, only the trees nail the landscape to any sense of proportion--the snowy distance would otherwise fade imperceptibly into the gray sky.  (How do folks know their own scale out on the prairies or in the deserts?  Without trees, contemplation of human insignificance must ensue: it's clear to me why shepherds are the heralds of religion.)  And of course, a sea of mud to come still separates us from walking outside to visit the garden.