For weeks now, I have been witnessing a resurrection. This is no spectacle bursting forth in a blast of life and color, but a quiet emergence emanating slowly from muddy ground and matted leaves.
It is the experience of spring granted to those of us who have endured a northern winter and eagerly watch for the first signs of seasonal change. They are everywhere and nowhere. A first glance at the landscape reveals nothing but brown matter, a tangle of bare branches. Then a sharp whistle from the Tufted Titmouse signals it is time to take another, deeper look. Yes, there is something to see. In the woods, wisps of foliage mark the start of what will become drifts of petite Spring Beauty blooms under the trees. In the garden, tips of Daffodil leaves poke upward through the mulch, and here and there, early blooming miniature Irises form the first drops of color.
Other harbingers are returning buzzards soaring overhead as they “kettle” on favorable winds, a Great-horned Owl occupying a nest deeper in the woods, and the appearance near the bird feeders of a Fox Sparrow, an early bird heralding the start of spring migration. Each day seems to bring more evidence: a butterfly flitting past and coming to rest on a patch of tree bark, buds popping out of the stumps of an elderberry bush, followed by the furry catkins on the Pussy Willow, and the cry of “FEE-bee, FEE-bee” as an Eastern Phoebe arrives.
Once this phenomenon starts, it seems there is no holding back. Almost overnight, Daffodil and Spring Beauty buds unfold and pop into sprays of blooms, a band of Kinglets makes an entrance, the sighting of a Gray Catbird is reported at a nearby marsh, and spring’s calendar reminds us to start watching for the next wildflowers – Dutchman’s Breeches, Swamp Buttercup, and Jack-in-the-Pulpit.
Admittedly, these beginnings of spring may seem lacking in excitement or even interest to those who, in this digital age, require big, splashy visual displays and the stimulation of quick changes. Truly, it is the rare visitor to our little landscape who appreciates these incipient stages of spring and can savor a first bloom or a sprinkling of green surfacing from under the dull leaf cover.
Hence it was with great delight a few days ago that I escorted two budding naturalists and their mother through a section of the woods and observed their enjoyment in being shown one of the first Spring Beauty blooms. Although it was a cloudy, windy, cold day and the bloom was closed, these sisters, ages 3 and 5, were visibly elated at the sight and even more so when, after walking a little farther, they found a Spring Cress bloom on their own. Their “Look, here’s another one!” moment was nothing short of exquisite.
I feel that same joy of discovery every spring as I watch for a resurrection that is promised, but not assured until fully revealed. In the interim, each shoot of green, each small bud gives me faith in what I hope for and evidence for what cannot yet be seen.
“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Hebrews 11:1.