Sunday, February 21, 2010


Less than an hour ago I found my first crocus spears of the season, one even poking through the snow.

I wrote this February 16, 2004. This post is for me. Again, the crocus rises.

I tend to mark the seasons by plants. Some connections are obvious, strawberries and honeysuckle in June, apples and pumpkins in October. After the hard freeze in November, time seems to stop. By January, even kale has given up the ghost. By then, I no longer notice.

Deep winter, rhythms cease. Some of us lose our way. Age teaches me little but patience; sometimes that is enough.

Now in mid-February the ground remains frozen, and will be for another month. In a week or so, however, impossibly green slivers of grass-like leaves will break through the ice, marked with silver stripes down their middle. And in two weeks, egg-shaped cups of purple and yellow and white will flare open with the sun, exposing bright yellow stamens, the first smell of sex since the world died.

Crocuses flower from February to April--the earliest flowers defy logic, brilliant bursts of color calling bees still slumbering in hives.

By this time of year, I have just about given up on prayer. Nothing seems possible. This early bright drop of color reminds me just how little I know.

And here they are, back again.


Jenny said...

I saw your tweet earlier and it lifted my spirits. I'm so unbelievably ready for winter to be over and today we were able to see grass again for the first time in weeks. Your crocuses and our grass give me hope.

doyle said...

Dear Jenny,

Every day, over two minutes more of sunshine.

Sunshine, sunshine, sunshine!!!

Kathryn J said...

Me too! I'm sure that my snowdrops are on their way but they are under a half foot of snow at this point. I start marking the growing season in Fall when I find the new peony shoots during end-of-season cleanup. Then there is a thaw in February or March when I will have snowdrops. I could send you some and then you would have something earlier than croci.

This post really raised my spirits. I have been happily marking the additional daylight and the shadow shift that is happening at nearly top speed right now.

This Brazen Teacher said...

Been battling a sinus infection for near a month now. The beastly thing has already resisted one antibiotic. First time that's ever happened to me... does it mean I'm getting old? Perhaps.

Got out of my car yesterday morning at school and heard BIRDS. While it was snowing. I felt my white blood cells rejoice. Always appreciate your nature musings.

Unknown said...

It has rained pretty heavily here, but the air is so dry that it all feels slightly cold and crisp, but absolutely exploding with color.

Wildflowers everywhere run amuck in our minimalist desert terrain, violently tearing down the suburban niceties, nature's little graffiti artists refusing to be subdued. They'll live a short life or go into hiding while the giant Saguaros will slowly bloom - so subtle that most people will miss it.

I know we "share" a spring time, but it feels as though our spring is earlier, quicker and comes with the bonus package of Spring Training baseball.

doyle said...

Dear Kathryn,

I love the way the shadows shift as quickly as they do this time of year. Each week or so I marvel at how uch more light we have than the few days before.

I've been tempted to get snowdrops, but I've lived by my crocuses for so long I'd feel disloyal if I adopted an earlier harbinger of spring. I have a bizarre, visceral attachment to crocuses.

Dear Brazen,

I love the image of white cells rejoicing in the increasing light. I like it so much I may accidentally steal it in years to come. Feel free to snatch it back if I do.

Dear John,

As spectacular as your spring is, nothing can replace (for me) the crocus spears poking through the snow at a point when I think winter cannot, and will not, end.

(I love the desert--and the life there. But I belong at the edge of the sea.)