Friday, April 06, 2012

`Its Pendulum Oscillates'

“Rainy, more or less,--April weather.”

Mostly more. We woke to rain, a dull tattoo on the roof, the light thin and milky even with curtains drawn. Rain fell through the morning until I went out for errands, when it turned to fat globules of sleet, collecting in gray drifts on the dead maples leaves, and then a mingling of hail and sleet, until after twenty minutes the progression reversed, back to sleet and then to rain for the rest of the day.

“I am struck by the fact that at this season all vegetable growth is confined to the warm days; during the cold ones it is stationary, or even killed. Vegetation thus comes forward rather by fits and starts than by a steady progress. Some flowers would blossom tomorrow if it were as warm as to-day, but cold weather intervening may detain them a week or more.”

Our fifth and final spring in the Pacific Northwest. Mosses, lichens and algae thrive. Daffodils blossomed last weekend and puckered up when the sleet and hail fell. Some flowering trees are in bud and the grass is intensely green. A neighbor’s garden is planted and staked but nothing has broken through the soil.

“The spring thus advances and recedes repeatedly,--its pendulum oscillates,--while it is carried steadily forward. Animal life is to its extent subject to a similar law. It is in warm and calm days that most bird arrive and reptiles and insects and men come forth. A toad has been dead on a sidewalk, flattened.”

We have no sidewalks but the streets and driveways are slick with earthworms. In Houston I’ve seen at least one butterfly each month since I moved there last June. None here in Washington. No insects. When I went out to remove the empty propane tank from the barbecue, I noticed a violet growing from a crack in the concrete, heaped with sleet so only the blossoms were exposed. A fitting emblem for the Pacific Northwest: ice-covered beauty.

[The quoted passage are from Thoreau’s journal entry for April 6, 1860.]

1 comment:

William A. Sigler said...

Nice passage of April 6th symmetries across time: Thoreau's "left-brain" conjectures with your "right-brain" absorption in the natural detail: "slick with earthworms," "puckered" daffodils, "gray drifts" on dead maple leaves. To add further pendulous oscillating to the fire, the weather out East could not be different: ridiculous blossoms, lush spring clouds, constant sun, green just taking hold, and warmth more or less infiltrated all winter pockets. (And to think I moved out here from the West two years ago this Easter - good luck on your move back!)