Sunday, April 7, 2019

Springing, Sprung

Spring, at last, is airborne. We feel it on our skin, outdoors.

We see it, from car windows, colors pooling faintly in the greening fields. The flood of blue, orange, red and yellow will come soon. Invasive rapistrum rugosum, whose common name seems harsh for these pages, has made a good start, already, the tall, appealing spray of pale yellow disguising its ruthlessness.

Ah, but close up, the little things. Under our feet in the yard, tiny yellow starbursts, dots of periwinkle blue. The suspended layer of onion grass brings white to sunny spaces. Oak shade shelters the five petaled snowy cups of dewberry blooms.

Much of the ground is a dappled carpet of dropped leaves, beige and dark gold, implying the variegated hues of a copperhead. We walk with attention to where we step.

Here is a black jack oak, leaves of puckered green silk trailing chartreuse beards of bloom. More oaks in the woods, brushing our shoulder along the path—the translucent green at the end of a post oak branch, tenderest leaf to have so much responsibility, for life, for breath.

A fallen limb from seasons past wears a velvet coverlet, moss of the most brilliant green.

And, of course, there is the vigor of new briars yearning up the stalky trunks of yaupon, reaching for the sky. Sprigs of bright poison ivy, newly juiced, look to their important task, despite our inconvenience.

Across the pasture, trees exhale a green fog that lifts the heart in celebration. We see it and feel that hope is possible, even certain, if only we could renew ourselves in the way trees do. Live slowly, tasting every current of air, valuing the fall of daylight every moment upon us.

The pasture sprouts many things other than grass: Expectations of bluebonnets, coreopsis, the first paintbrush, its tip dipped in orange. Low growing clover competes with prickly pear, four inches tall to puncture tires and paws. Our dog finds thorns everywhere she goes.

There is more than one variety of clover, probably, but how do we really learn to name the plants we live with? Most of us just use the names we learned in childhood from our families and friends. Thus, the mis-named buttercup which turned out to be pink evening primrose.

I watch a mystery beginning under the live oak, a plant that looks like arugula, but sprouts a central succulent stalk, lightly fuzzed. The tiny independent flowers that will make its bloom, but haven’t yet, may reveal its identity tomorrow. A dandelion? Wild lettuce?

Naming things is fundamental to a human being, but does it help us see them more clearly? Or does it allow us to abstract them, to categorize wonder?

Butterflies have arrived, black ones, yellow ones, mixed orange and black that are not Monarchs, although we wish they were. Here, too, we lack the nomenclature.

But names don’t mitigate the buzzing of other small insects that accompany this riot of green. Instead of winter’s sere clarity only a week or two ago, the air is plaited now with gnats and other translucent insects. They fly under your visor, tickling earlobes, tasting you to see if you’re worth further exploration. No mosquitoes, though.

It’s early still.

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