Rite of Spring

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“The butterfly counts not months but moments, and has time enough.”  ~Rabindranath Tagore

Every year in mid-April a friend of mine and I have a custom…a trip to a butterfly conservatory to celebrate my birthday AND spring.  The one we usually go to at that

particular time was closed so we opted for the larger one we usually visit in winter (but didn’t as I was laid up with those pesky injuries.)  To be surrounded by literally a couple of thousand bits of flying beauty is like walking into another world.  And indeed it is. These delicate creatures don’t live very long, some only days and some only weeks but in that time, they live.

11The wonderful thing about these conservatories is that you can see varieties you will never see in your garden (most likely)  We have the (diminishing) Monarchs and Swallowtails, Skippers and such but at Magic Wings you see specimens like this Glass Wing, and many other  colorful beauties.  Fluttering amid the flowers that were in profuse bloom we took picture after picture.  No matter that we have hundreds of photos from past trips, each one is different…perhaps just a bit of a different angle…better light.  Like sunsets and sunrises, photographers can never have too many photos of something beautiful.  Never.

5Also, these little butterflies teach us that life is fleeting.  That we might get a little tattered at times but it’s always worth living.  Focus on the positive…the good…and fly above the  negative energy that threatens to pull you down.

Take some time to pursue a little beauty in YOUR life today.

It’s About Time!

crossings sunsetsmallThe past couple of days, Spring has made a bit of headway around these parts.

Winter, as usual, was quite reluctant to give up its icy grip but finally some warmer days have melted just about all of the snow (with the exception of snowbank remains in shady areas).  The grass is beginning to show some green, and the waters are open once again, to the delight of the local waterfowl. Ducks, geese, gulls, herons…all wildlife has returned and the scouting for nest location has begun.  It is a wonderful time of the year.mallard3

One of my favorite things is to sit in the car alongside one of the local ponds or lakes and watch the ducks and geese come soaring in… skipping across the water like a flat stone and settling in for a paddle.  Some scolding and territorial fights arise and it can get pretty active.

I can imagine that the water feels good…clearing off dust and mites.  I have to admit on the cold and windy days I sit and shiver and they splash around like they are in a hot tub.  You have to admire exuberance like that.

In the same way, I stretch my mental wings, wash off the dullness of winter and get down to the business of living, loving, BEING in the present moment. For here is the secret of happiness..right before my eyes.  Shaking off troubles, embracing the newness of another season, finding the lesson in the observing.

Simplicity.  Pure simplicity.

Birds, Wild and Tame

canaryA couple of times, I have mentioned the wonderful sound of the birds singing and how you can hear it once again in the early morning hours.

Even watching them swooping through the yard to the feeders, drinking or taking a bath in the bird bath, lined up on the edge of the garage roof or arguing within the branches of the shrubs brings a smile to my face and can cheer up even the dreariest day.

I think also of some of the “pet” birds we had years ago.  The canaries that would sing so sweetly or the parakeets that would squawk from their perches.  One friend had a parakeet that would spend time out of the cage and sit on her shoulder trying to steal her Cheerios.  Or sit on the curtains and scold all comers. My mother would put on a canary “training record” to encourage or teach the bright little birds to sing.  And sing they did! Another friend had little finches – lovebirds – that didn’t do too much that I remember but they were lovely birds.  I often wonder though, if captivity is kind to them.   Dogs and cats can become very comfortable in the role of “domesticated” but do birds miss flying free?

Just some of the random thoughts going through my mind today.

Happy Easter!

easter“Our Lord has written the promise of the resurrection, not in books alone, but in every leaf in spring-time.” ~Martin Luther

It’s Easter.  Although it’s kind of chilly and windy for Easter dresses and bonnets, the snow is just about gone.  I was thinking this morning how, in about 3 weeks or so, the leaves will be coming out and the grass will be green once again.  After a long, snowy, cold winter everyone in the great northeast is more than ready for…Spring!

And how appropriate that Easter is celebrated in this season of new life and rebirth.  In plants as well as in our hearts.  Actually, each day is a “little Spring” in that we have a fresh slate to make the most of what we have.  One thing that we all share in equal abundance is Spirit.  There are always difficult times in life, just as there are storms to contend with in nature.  Harsh times can crop up in both winter and the other seasons…and they can pop up at any time in our lives.

Having been confined most of the winter recovering from injuries sustained in January, I had a LOT of time to reflect.  And in this healing time, I am amazed at the capacity for humans to heal even as we get older.  Of course, like anything else in nature, our time here is limited but what we can accomplish in many diverse forms can be almost unlimited.  Everything is reborn right now.  We have new chances, right now. Maybe not exactly the way we would prefer, but growth nonetheless.

Begin to live again.  Right now.

A little touch of Spring

casting callOutdoors, the weather bounces back and forth from “almost warm” to snow flurries.  It seems that in the Great Northeast, Winter will not give up without a tug-of-war with Spring.

These bunnies at a local Country Store are trying their hardest to be harbingers of Easter, warmer days, sunshine and a touch of carefree whimsy.  I have to admit they DO look just a little perplexed…like they looked out the window and can’t see the early flowers for the snowbanks.  We are only a couple of days away from April but I think March might go out like a lion.

In other news around these parts I have been watching the gradual transition in the neighborhood as the “For Sale” signs go up.  One house…the one next door…should have a revolving door for all of the activity it has seen over the past 20 years with folks moving in and out. Another…the house of a long time friend…will soon house another family.  We are one of the few remaining “old timers” here and I have to say, I do miss the old times quite often.

But life changes, as seasons change, and we are called to be open to each new chapter of our lives.  To learn and grow from every experience that comes our way.

Welcome, Spring, welcome life

Welcome.

A Time of Vivid Color

sunrise_2We are a few days into Spring now…the temperatures bounce back and forth, the wind blows cold and biting and some nights still dip into single digits.  But it’s a great time of year for spectacular skies as shown in this sunrise photo and a sunset photo further down in the blog.  The only thing is, you have to be ready for it.  If I had been in the kitchen I would have missed this sunrise on the first day of spring. The snow is melting slow but sure, the long icicles that hung down over the windows are now a memory.  The first narcissus have popped up next to the foundation.

The garden centers are advertising their Palm Sunday open houses coming up and I am getting itchy to see color in the yard once again.  I am hoping to get some small begonia plants that I can get started  so that by May they can be put outdoors.  But as the warmth plays hide-and-seeksunset 3-22-15,  May seems to be light years away.

No matter, everything comes in due season and having four distinct seasons makes me appreciate each one in its turn. By the time one has been around for a while I am ready to greet a new one.  The comforting hiss of radiators (yes, we still have those in this old house and I LOVE them) will be replaced by the breeze of ceiling fans.  Hobbies and interests change, except for photography which is ongoing.  Soups and stews make way for firing up the grill and lighter fare.  The lake in my sunset shot just above will be teeming with ducks, geese, gulls…and over in the outlet some blue herons and egrets, hawks, maybe even an eagle if we get lucky.

Now to get rid of the rest of the snow….

It’s SPRING! Sorta.

sunflowerRemember the sunflower from a few days ago?

It’s been out i the snowbank ever since I stuck it there, and our snow HAS been melting.  As you can see in this photo, we still have some more melting to go. We did have some fresh flurries today and into this evening but it’s not really unusual for this time of year.  We ARE ready for some nice days however.  Whenever they decide to get here.  One of my favorite quotes about this time of waiting is by Henry VanDyke…”The first day of spring is one thing, and the first spring day is another. The difference between them is sometimes as great as a month.”

But it is getting a little lighter earlier in the morning, and staying light until 7 or a bit beyond.  You hear even more birds singing their spring songs.  The snow piles are gritty and crystallized.  And it is just about mud season.  All the small signs that the ancient cycle of life is enfolding as it should.  Soon, windows will be open wide to let in fresh, sweet air and the earth, and our spirits, will be renewed.

In the sun room, the plants that wintered over are perking up. Soon I will get some seeds and start plants in pots to move out when the weather permits.  It is an exciting season filled with hope.

And the promise of new life.

A Little Whimsy

P1130146aWarmer days, back to colder days…gray skies.  So, you start to look for color and cheery things to make you smile.

We stopped at a local country store for lunch last week and after lunch I wandered around a little and took some photos.  I had not been there since before Christmas…now all of the Easter delights are out on display.  Bunnies, ducklings, Easter eggs…signs of Spring even if there is still a foot of snow in the yard (down from a couple of feet at least)

But, the birds are singing, and there IS a difference in the song as mating season comes in.  We get occasional days where you get a whiff of Spring-sweet air and you rush to open the windows..only to close them late in the day when the temperature falls.  The icicles have just about melted from the roof line, snowbanks are receding, and although we can still have a good snowstorm or two the tide is turning.  Whenever I begin to wonder if Spring will ever get here, I stop and realize…

It always has.

Out of the deep freeze

P1130171-1It’s been a while since I posted, but the past few days we have had a real break in the cold and snow.  Perhaps a January Thaw…in March?

These mallards – along with a few dozen extras – found open water in a drainage ditch and took advantage to swim, preen winter-weary feathers, and take naps on the surrounding snowbanks.  They looked as happy as a lot of the people I have been seeing.

The warmer weather corresponds with my own freedom from the sling and “house arrest” from the broken arm and ribs.  I started PT, and part of my added exercise is to do camera lifts!  We got out to a local country store the other day for lunch and here at home the snow has melted enough that I started cleaning the path of sunflower seed hulls from the back yard under the bird feeders.  P1130128-1The other day, tired of seeing all the snow, I took one of my artificial sunflowers and stuck it in a snowbank outside the window.  Think it may have had an effect on the weather?

Whether or not it did, (and my guess is that it really had no impact whatsoever) the long awaited preview of days to come has arrived.  It will be short lived as a wintry mix is due over the weekend but we are “short time” on Winter now.  I am MORE than ready.

I bet you are too!

Thinking Ahead

Sierra Exif JPEGIn about 26 hours, it will be March.

February, in these parts, has been one of coldest and snowiest on record.  Average temperatures between 12 and 13 degrees. Not only here but friends in the southern states…you know, the ones who let you know that the daffodils are budding…have also been dealing with cold, ice and snow.

In my working days, when I would tear off the calendar page for February, seeing the word March at the top of the calendar seemed like a turning point.  Even though we can easily get snow into April, March always meant “You’re almost there.”  It will be a miracle if I see the back yard by the end of the month but the lion’s share of Winter is history.  Deep beneath the snow cover the spring flowers slumber and soon the tight buds on the trees will get JUST a little bit bigger.  The sun will shine just a little bit warmer.  And the daylight will be around just a little longer.  We will start to hear the bird symphony in the morning.  The world wakes up, and inside of us our plans, dreams and hopes also awaken.  It’s the cycle that is ever faithful.  I am ready.

How about you?