The world is cloudy this morning — gray with late-winter light — but yesterday! Yesterday was really something! Something to get out into; something beautiful and bright! Blue skies stretched from east to west. The March sun held warmth — real warmth — and I celebrated with hands bared as I snowshoed across the compacting drifts, as I knelt in the water-heavy snow, as I photographed water droplets forming on the underside of skeleton ice.
Snowshoeing on the melting drifts, I thought of Wendell Berry’s late-winter poem—
Through the weeks of deep snow
we walked above the ground
on fallen sky, as though we did
not come of root and leaf, as though
we had only air and weather
for our difficult home.
as March warms, and the rivulets
run like birdsong on the slopes,
and the branches of light sing in the hills,
slowly we return to earth.
Earlier in the morning I drove south hoping to catch sight of Canada geese migrating homeward. I walked the trails of Rydell National Wildlife Refuge. Chickadees flitted from tree limb to tree limb. Nuthatches scaled the trunks of aspens and pines. Crows called overhead flying in twos and sixes. A hairy woodpecker torpedoed across my path. The sun, revealing dried grasses in the receding snow, had yet to thaw the ponds and marshes. And yet — yet! — spring had sprung, not with the first sounds of Canada geese, but with the trumpets of swans.
Poised upon the snow-covered ice, a pair of Trumpeter swans staked claim on the new season.
Berry, Wendell. “Another Descent.” Collected Poems of Wendell Berry 1957-1982, 206. New York: North Point Press, 1987.
Rydell National Wildlife Refuge, Erskine, MN.