west coast spring

In the spring...

"In the Spring a fuller crimson comes upon the robin's breast; 
In the Spring the wanton lapwing gets himself another crest;

In the Spring a livelier iris changes on the burnish'd dove; 
In the Spring a young man's fancy lightly turns to thoughts of love." 

Alfred, Lord Tennyson, Lockley Hall

They must sense light just as it creeps up, or see more alertly with their round bright eyes, those small birds that bring such an exuberant start to the morning. The crows come soon after, cawing in their complaining way. Then the gulls waking up and calling as the charcoal sky expires in the pale ash dregs of night.

Everything is reproducing. A new, thicker layer of yellow pollen on the neighbourhood cars each day. Seeds fall onto the patio from the broad leafed maples, arbutus. Seeds, seed casings, something. Tree garbage to be swept, swept away. Oh, there's more.

Everything bursting forth, springing up, unfurling, greening.

Gone the first pleasure of crocus and snow drop, even daffodil. Now bluebells crowd the slopes and Mexican jasmine flowers white, and the petals of dogwood like little platforms displaying the light the sun spills onto the thawing earth, coaxing open lilacs, that comforting lilac-colour and also white. Their fragrance blesses ivory legged passers-by wearing sandals and shorts.

Dandelions along every ditch, every path. Puffy grey heads of seed stars. Early cherry and plum blossoms fade as apple flowers take the stage.


Here on the west coast of Canada, spring has declared its intention to once again astound us. Purple crocus open when the sun beams on my yard, snow drops gradually lift their finely patterned white faces, daffodils gather in buds that will burst into buttery trumpets when the temperature is consistently warmer.

But what I've really been noticing are the birds: a thrush surprising me when I thought it might just be a dead maple leaf skittering across the stone path; little brown wrens, fat even at this time of year, their tails like pinky fingers scribbling at the sky behind a bare branch; creepers pecking at the moss on my Siberian elm. Just now, on my walk up the hill, I felt almost threatened by the breathy whir of the ravens flying over, beaks full of what looked like building material for nests, squabbling with other ravens in a part of the forest I couldn't see. They flew so low, their voices so loud, so menacingly squawky. On the beach, oyster catchers trot, their long curved red bills poke, their shrill whistles pierce a cloudy afternoon. A robin lands on a driftwood log. The ubiquitous seagulls, but more of them, it seems. Rafts of golden eye ducks, the males so crisply black and white that when they turn a certain way I might be seeing the crest of a cranky wave. Herons hunched into their necks.  A bald eagle sweeping towards the ferry terminal, wings outstretched on an up draft. Two human friends make sure that their virtually resident hummingbirds can continue to sip from feeders, by taking the feeders in at night so they don't freeze. Ah, birds ...to inspire such reverence.

"Hope is the thing with feather, that perches in the soul, and sings the tune without the words and never stops - at all." Emily Dickinson

"I watch in the morning when I wake up...a blackbird... He seems as if his singing were a sort of talking to himself, or of thinking aloud his strongest thoughts. I wish I was a blackbird, like him."D.H. Lawrence