Ultima Thule

In ancient times the northernmost region of the habitable world - hence, any distant, unknown or mysterious land.

Sunday, March 06, 2005

On seeing the first robin in spring

By Aussiegirl

It's a beautiful day today -- mild and sunny -- spring is more or less here, with a few disgruntled revisits by Old Man Winter, who just can't seem to say a final farewell. I saw the first robin the other day, and although the experts are always reassuring us that robins don't actually leave, and really overwinter here, no one that I know has ever seen one in the dead of winter. But every March -- or sometimes even February if the weather is mild -- suddenly there they are, cocking their little heads to listen for a worm and then -- pounce -- pulling up a big juicy fat one and sometimes indulging in a mighty tug o' war until the worm either wins -- or more usually -- Mr. Robin gets his meaty reward.
Also the maples are beginning to bud and swell. I love their multi-hued reddish and golden blooms that are always among the first harbingers of spring. Then all of a sudden, a forsythia will pop up in the neighborhood, like popcorn popping in a see-through popper -- first a few buds -- I swear every year I can almost hear them popping -- and then more and more -- and suddenly -- a profusion of violent and jarring yellow -- after a winter of drab mauves, grays and browns. Then it's a steady onward progression of colors, the rainbow of a Washington spring.

The crocuses and daffodils, followed by the tulips with their little heads at Easter time looking like so many gaily decorated Easter eggs. Then the quinces will bud with their subtle shades of coral. And then -- the crowning glories of a Washington spring -- the abundant Japanese cherry trees start their delicate pink and white blooming.

They are planted all over the area, and in particular profusion, of course, at the Tidal Basin around the Jefferson Memorial and widely throughout other parts of Washington and the grounds of the Washington Monument. These trees, a gift of the Japanese government, back in the early part of the century, have created a beautiful tradition in Washington, which includes a whole week of festivities, concerts, events, crowned by a Cherry Blossom parade complete with princesses riding perched on the back seats of convertible cars and on floats. A memory of a distant and more innocent time.

Millions of people flock to the Jefferson Memorial grounds each year to walk around the picturesque waters of the Tidal Basin, a part of the Potomac River, to stroll under the arching canopies of the fragile, yet suprisingly tenacious blossoms, which then within a few weeks of blooming, begin shedding their petals and bloom in a snowy profusion of temporal beauty, the kind of temporal beauty that the Japanese are particularly fond of appreciating -- the transitory nature of life, of beauty and indeed of everything, except that which is timeless.

So again, spring always reminds me of so much. Of how things are constantly changing and renewing themselves, and yet remaining comfortingly the same. The paradox of living in the confines of time. And makes us wonder what existing in a realm without time might be like. I'm reminded that it is the very temporariness of our existence, and the inability to stop the process, or even grasp it fully for a second, that makes it all the more heart-achingly beautiful and precious.

We look forward each year to this renewal of life, this bursting forth of joyous color and flower, and hope that it triggers a similar renewal in our own hearts, careworn as they are from a long winter of discontent and seeming endless grayness. Perhaps that is what the Easter message is all about too. That renewal is always possible. That redemption is always possible. That the promise, no matter how far and distant it seems in the darkest days of winter, will nonetheless be fulfilled, and that our anxious waiting and longing will have its quietus at last. Our cup will be filled -- and we will drink deep of life, of beauty, of love, of God and of all his creation, knowing that we too, shall be re-created and restored, just like the Cherry Blossom.


At 11:12 AM, Blogger Just Rannin' Around said...

That was a beautiful posting! I think you just managed to push my Spring Fever into full force. There is nothing better than the smell of Spring. I haven't smelled it as of yet, but it is coming and I am ready!

At 12:11 PM, Blogger Aussiegirl said...

Thanks so much, Just Rannin -- I'm with you -- it's almost here -- it's coming -- the crocuses have already started to bloom -- it won't be long now -- we made it through another winter. Hang in there!!!


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