Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Clap of Thunder

It's spring. Officially, by the rays shining more directly on the northern hemisphere, the sun declares it. Scientific explanations aside, actual lived-in spring arrived some weeks ago.

A record setting March has us reeling in a state of bliss. It's been wonderfully mild. It's good to open windows and be outside so easily.

The last day of winter left with lightning and the clap of thunder. The first real fireworks of spring brought much needed rain with it.

Winter dug in where my brother lives in the West. Spring can be vexatious when it teases like that. Springtime in the Rockies can be a hope that gets buried under ten inches of new snow.

The robins are back filling the yard with the happiness they bring. Their arrival puts the seal on spring here in Minnesota.

With the gorgeous full moon a couple weeks ago, and two intense planets burning in the western skies, nature has been staging a spectacle for all to see.

It was my daughter who called attention to the planets. I was noticing them and I told her that when she asked. You see the beauty of the night but perhaps it becomes somewhat common to you. Perhaps sharing is necessary to make more of it.

After our visit the night sky has more stature. The planets have gained in significance. They're a shared piece of experience between us.Venus and Jupiter, positioned closely, stand out as particularly visibly bright.

The first northbound towboat of the season, pushing seven barges, reached St. Paul on St. Patrick's Day, March 17. The hoopla from the celebrating, in this Irish-proud capital city, must surely have reached the crew as they made port.

Despite the mild winter that went into the books, and the fast spring we're having, March 17 is only a few days early for the big boats.

Opening date for the Mississippi River navigation season, based on a 30-year average, is March 20. That's today.

The March 17 date is not the earliest opening date as we'd be led to believe. Earliest date is March 4, which occurred in 1984 and again in 2000 and 2001.

A river the size of the Mississippi runs on its own calendar. The same goes for our lakes. Local lakes are ice free. This is two to three weeks earlier than usual.

It's tantalizing to be thinking of retrieving our boats from winter storage. In last year's backward spring they were almost forgotten. This year they were hardly out of mind.

Meanwhile, the land is heating up. Trees are budding. All of nature is starting to stir.
Yesterday's newspaper had a photo of a magnolia tree in magnificent bloom in Champaign, Illinois.

Al and I know the area fairly well. We've been through there in the spring. We didn't see flowering magnolias either time. But flowering ornamental trees on Neil Street on one late March visit just took the breath away.

The Upper Midwest spring never gets to that full-blown eye-popping dazzling array of bloom and scent as elsewhere in our region. It certainly can't stack up to the riotous color and blossomy intoxication of the Southeast spring.

A friend originally from Virginia misses her home state at this time of year. "Spring is so pretty in Virginia," she says wistfully. She specifically mentions the blooming which outdoes itself, and the sweet concentrated fragrance carried on the soft southern air.

The seasonal snowfall, totaling a scant twenty-two inches, long ago soaked in. Ground is ready for the rains of spring. Yesterday was a good start. Lawns will be turning green.

Gardeners, knowing it's too early, get itchy to plant.
Our first packet of flower seeds has been bought. Some outside work has begun as we find ways to hang about in the super weather.
Al was outside raking the other day. The yard looks neat rid of its winter debris. There's so much energy in tackling the season's first projects.
Ro Giencke - March 20, 2012

1 comment:

  1. My brother reminded me that mom used to quote a poem about thunder being the decisive break between winter and spring.

    The line he referred to sounded familiar. I became so curious to locate the poem. Finding it and reading it, all the lines coming back to me, made me very happy.

    Here's to memory(in this case my brother's) and to moms who quote poetry to their children!

    Spring Thunder

    Listen, The wind is still,
    And far away in the night --
    See! The uplands fill
    With a running light.

    Open the doors. It is warm;
    And where the sky was clear--
    Look! The head of a storm
    That marches here!

    Come under the trembling hedge--
    Fast, although you fumble...
    There! Did you hear the edge
    of winter crumble

    Mark Van Doren