The Progress Of Spring

Each year at this time, I like to look upon the romantic image by Charles Daniel Ward “The Progress Of Spring.” According to the Dahesh Museum Of Art “Ward’s vision for this version was possibly the Roman writer Virgil’s series of pastoral poems collectively called The Georgics: ‘When winter’s rage abates, when cheerful hours Awake the spring, the spring awakes the flow’rs, On the green turf thy careless limbs display, And celebrate the mighty Mother’s Day. . . .'”

Well, we’re far from Monther’s Day, and the Spring Equinox is nearly a month away, but we are approaching meteorological spring, March 1st. It has been weirdly warm in many parts of the US, including here in Kentucky. Temps flew into the 70’s yesterday, breaking a few records. We’ll do the same today but crash tonight as a cold front returns us to seasonal normals.

“February breaks the back of winter,” the Grant County, Kentucky farmer taught me. You can smell the ground now. Too early to work the soil, but not too early to visit the seed stores and greenhouses. This is when we dream of the coming spring, not as we did in the theoretical hopefulness of December, but with sights, sounds, and feelings that are literal, factual, and knowable.

Bird song is on the increase. Daffodils and other flower bulbs are sending up their shoots, and in some instances, are already freakishly in full bloom. Tree sap is rising. The spring Peepers are out. The tiny frogs singing their evening chorus are a yearly harbinger of spring. Like the Daffodils, the tree buds, and the other things – they’re early this year.

My day almost always begins by spending time with nature, often with a camera in hand. Among this morning’s moments was this male Northern Cardinal keeping his eye on the seed feeders and the female Cardinals. Cardinals are very territorial, but at this stage of the year, they still tolerate other males and will even feed with them close by. However, the males will very soon pair bond with a female and claim a nesting territory. Another sign of the progress spring.

Thought In Memory Of Thomas Brown

Sit and be still
until in the time
of no rain you hear
beneath the dry wind’s
commotion in the trees
the sound of flowing
water among the rocks,
a stream unheard before,
and you are where
breathing is prayer.

Wendell Berry