Of sprouts and shoots and shifts of light…
March 11, 2016
The early morning light shifted just this week for me. Earlier than usual I found myself stirring when a flat grey light would creep into my room and show the trees and mountains outside my window in a two dimensional scene. Circadian rhythms being what they are, first morning light is not usually something I see. The day almost always starts without me.
Sometimes I get up and start responding to the chatter that landed overnight in my inbox. But I try, really try, not to engage for as long as possible. I leave the radio off and put on the teapot but I disengage the whistling part of the kettle. Quiet is a commodity in the shortest supply in my world, so I do all I can, for as long as I can, to preserve it.
And I push myself to try and reflect a bit on the day before and the day ahead. I would not call any of this meditation but I understand there are characteristics of that at play. Mostly, I watch the light imperceptibly shift from flat to bright and see the trees emerge with a third dimension –ditto the neighbor’s roof. And now the mountains, still snow-covered, have shadows and shapes and curves where the light is at play.
When I do emerge outside to leave the house and head to work, I hesitate and survey my tiny yard that New Yorkers always think is vast and complicated. Signs of life that have stayed underground for months are erupting. Green shoots are pushing their way through rocks in the garden out front . Soon they will be tulips and hyacinths and crocus in bright colors but now they are just green against the grey-brown of the rocks and dirt. And their single colors seem enough to process as the blanket of white recedes.
The week too, as I pulled out of the driveway, I noticed something moving on my lawn, out of the periphery of my view. It had not fallen from the sky but rather floated down and landed cleanly on a patch of exposed grass. It was the undeniable sign of spring — a big, fat robin. My neighbors told me, in a recent driveway exchange, they had already witnessed red wing blackbirds and a bright mountain bluebird. The high honking sounds of the prehistoric yet elegant looking sandhill crane have returned, too.
And for over a week we have had pruners coming, unannounced into our yards and taking off the last of the dried crabapples that hung on the trees or the new buds on the aspens. The pruners have been young moose — a pair of them — maybe a year old according to folks who can tell such things. They are very large mammals that have been ambling from yard to yard, drinking from the stream that runs in the gutter as the day warms up. We watch them from the safety of our front porches or inside a motionless vehicle and we pause to admire their majesty. There is a matched sadness of course, in seeing them in our residential neighborhood, where they never used to appear. The growth in our community has forced them out of their natural hidden spaces and they are foraging for food close, entirely too close, to the human population.
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We have given them wide berth. "Moose first" my neighbor texted me during the most recent moose show.
There will still be storms — we have lived in these mountains long enough to know spring is a sucker’s game. The calendar will proclaim it so in about a week and the changing light will be forced to be observed in a manipulation of clock time. But the seasons have their own rhythms we cannot deny or manipulate to suit a workday. And spring will find its way here between storms and turning back devices to give us less of the morning and instead an added hour of light at night.
And we love that, too — the extended day and slow sunsets that circle open sky in colors that vibrate against the red rocks and luminescent green trees. We will emerge in neighborhoods from our cocooned silence and a cacophony of children’s laughter and basketballs bouncing and playful dogs will spill out into yards and onto cul de sacs.
And sure, it means a time to move out parts of our world that have not wintered well, from clothing to furniture — perhaps even a few relationships. Spring always announces possibilities and hope and promises fulfilled when planted bulbs finally bloom. And in a community where lately we are spending so much time analyzing and quantifying and studying results and anticipating more growth and trying to control movement of people and their various modes of transportation, sometimes it is lovely and powerful to focus on a few of the things we cannot, should not, control. Sometimes we should let nature lead and we should slowly start a day and reflect on our place on the planet, sure, but maybe just our place in our tiny world outside our window/door/driveway. The season is shifting and we should allow ourselves to be moved with the tilt of the planet. Each new day now, including Sunday in the Park…
Teri Orr is a former editor of The Park Record. She is the director of the Park City Institute, which provides programming for the George S. and Dolores Doré Eccles Center for the Performing Arts.