Some of the beneficiaries of nest building work
The first calendar day of spring has passed. At the Lantern offices in Brooklyn, there are daffodils, crocuses, tiny spouting leaves everywhere, and the forsythias are turning yellow.
Where I live, sixty miles up the Hudson valley, the buds are barely visible, much less opening. I wake up to frustrating things like snow flurries. I'm desperate for the switch to happen, literally crawling around looking for signs.
This passage from Rachel Carson
's The Sea Around Us
is helping to tide me over a little longer, making me look a little closer at those nubs that will soon be sprouting leaves.
The symbols of hope are not lacking even in the grayness and bleakness of the winter sea. On land we know that the apparent lifelessness of winter is an illusion. Look closely at the bare branches of a tree, on which not the palest gleam of green can be discerned. Yet, spaced along each branch are the leaf buds, all the spring's magic of swelling green concealed and safely preserved under the insulating, overlapping layers. Pick off a piece of the rough bark; there you will find hibernating insects. Dig down through the snow into the earth. There are the eggs of next summer's grasshoppers; there are the dormant seeds from which will come the grass, the herb, the oak tree.
So, too, the lifelessness, the hopelessness, the despair of the winter sea are an illusion. Everywhere are the assurances that the cycle has come to the full, containing the means of its own renewal. There is the promise of a new spring in the very iciness of the winter sea, in the chilling of the water, which must, before many weeks, become so heavy that it will plunge downward, precipitating the overturn that is the first act in the drama of spring.
I've been clutching this beautiful little hardcover book from the fifties, telling myself to be patient, to look even more closely. I'm seeing the spring drama for what it is. Those whipping, windy rainstorms that keep felling trees and knocking out power for hours at a time are blowing the warmth our way. And today, all of a sudden, there was beautiful wet warm air that made every kind of bird go into a frenzy of nest building. The doves, the crows, the woodpeckers, all collecting. Today we could all feel the electricity of spring in the air.