Tuesday, March 15, 2005


As I scour the woods for signs, any signs, of spring, I feel a twinge of dread. I know what's coming.

For now there are only the vaguest hints -- buds,

a little more swollen this week,

some with pussy-willow-like nubbins emerging ; new branches -- greenwood, redwood -- sprouting from trunks; spiky clumps bristling in the leaf scars of a fuzzy ailanthus stalk .

The rest attenuates more and more.

One wouldn't think it possible. The few remaining berries shrivel and moulder.

Queen Anne's lace has become so frail that it's skeletal, nearly invisible in the sunlight, apt to crumble with the least touch.

Grape tendrils -- once plump and bronze, dwindle to silvery threads.

Wild cucumber pods, though still spiky, are thin, white, porous as sponges.

But listen: hear that distant roar ? That's the rush of green that will soon push out of the earth, along and out of the branches, to overtake and overwhelm everything. Including me.

My eye has grown used to the winter woods, to the tangles and knots of vines and tendrils,

to the precisely ramifying leaf ribs

and the stripped seeddheads of bleached-out grass,

to pods,like empty hands,

to hollowed stalks,

and the rusted articulations of dead and dormant wood.

It has grown accustomed to the season's subtle colors: brown, gray, silver, beige with slashes of red and green;

It is drawn to the black clustered discs of tansy

and the golden evening primrose pods,

to the flame-shaped, whitish blur of goldenrod,

and the the dying galaxies of asters.

It's the dun calm before the greenstorm. I brace myself, recalibrate and wait.

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