That’s when all the animals of the forest were in a flutter, in the wild springtime of the year, according to the story, as the great deer prince and princess of the forest were making their initial appearances. We can experience birth too, a rebirth of ourselves, renewed by the wildness of spring.
During past winter twilight hours, gazing at white, blanketed fields, I envisioned myself stepping along the hushed, mysterious edges betwixt pasture and woodland.
It’s not silent out there anymore.
Jammin’ to classic rock, I conduct myself to the next out-of-door adventure, as the mating call of the woods surges. It’s time to get down and get dirty, embrace mud, get feet wet, break free of winter’s ‘limitation-chains’ and reacquaint my soul with the life-giving rawness of the woods.
I sprawl, not moving a muscle, on damp sand, along Lake Forest Park Drive, eyes shut, only listening, as water, no longer trapped and frozen, runs again, liberated. Trickling rivulets journey, rushing down melt water paths, carving out flowage, sculpting new depressions and gorges. Later, drip dripping, along the Brachiopod Trail at Whitefish Dunes State Park, I watch as snow releases its hold drop by drop, from rock ledge to rock ledge. I miss rain. I am lonely for a good old-fashioned thunderstorm. The water releases pliant dampness to the air. Breezes pick that up and turn it into the Chinook, the great wind of spring that blows across the land, to fill our nostrils with buttery sweetness.
Buds. I suppose if I had canine ears, I could even hear them rip open. Tree buds swell, like my heart in the springtime, ripen with brightened colour, then tear open. R-i-i-i-p, crackle, crinkle. Slo-mo sound. As I merrily traipse along the Hemlock Trail, uphill from the campground at Potawatomi State Park, I treat myself, stretching up high or bending down low (deer may have nibbled some in the middle) to the spectacle of bursting tree buds. I reach out a fingertip, caress their pliable surfaces, as smooth as my grandson’s cushiony hiney. It’s a show I make sure not to miss. Front row seats. Never advertised, but I’ve got it on my yearly calendar.
As temperatures moderate and concave impressions form in melting snow, spontaneous snow flea parties erupt. Yep, as soon as I hear the word “flea,” I start to itch, but snow fleas are not fleas at all. They are officially known as springtails. To activate, they coil up their bodies and use a special appendage, a furcula, to flip around like tiddlywinks, presumably from party to party. Snow fleas mince up forest debris, furthering its descent to bits of soil. They are out there chomping away, all year long, but it is in warming air, on white snow, that they can easily be seen, mere specks of energetically flipping dots.
Ode to a Snow flea
(composed while hiking up behind the nature center at Peninsula State Park, after imbibing an old-fashioned in a Fish Creek establishment).
Snow flea, I bow to thee. Thou art the epitome of glee. Never knowing where thou will land, each flip a universe spanned.
No longer dark at 4 o’clock, I savour the lingering afternoon plenitude. It’s again that time to sit quietly on the top step of my deck stairs with a cup ‘o tea. Light is calling: come and play again. Rich green patches emerge to again colour the landscape, in vivid contrast with sodden bark browns. Rich is certainly the word of the day, and the way I feel, for we are rich who tread the earth, delighting in its caprices.