Thursday, March 24, 2011

3.20 We’re All Back

The big hand of the seasonal clocks is the warming of the earth. When the earth warms, whether it’s late February or middle march, the green plants wake.
I pull off the top cover of leaf mulch spread over the groundcovers last fall, and find, to everybody’s delight, that we’re all back. The crocuses are here, the tulips are fingering out of the earth, the pachysandra is as bright and bouncey as it gets, and some of the steppable thyme patches are in mid-season form. And here I am, waxing philosophical over our familiar, re-imagined landscape as I rake off, or lift off or cut away the old skin of the old year, winter’s wrinkles giving way to the snipping of a new sky and a bright laser light of the turn of the year.
The spring equinox means the equal division of the day into light and darkness, which means a big gain for the light side over the narrow-eyed winter months. When you add daylight savings to the end of the day, where most of us live, it’s a big change from a month ago when it was still dark at five p.m. Now the light lasts until seven p.m. (and all we need to make life livable is some sunny weather, dammit). The light sits higher in the sky this time of year, making the late afternoons glow when the sun shines, and the bowl of sky find still new shades of twilight blue when the sun finally fades.
We remember all this and rejoice.
I pick among the detritus that the long snow gathered and froze and dirtied on the sidewalk strip and reveal the tiny green spears of the crocus, more or less where I left them. Dogs have walked these thin precincts, a spume of litter from overturned garbage cans made its way down to the earth, who knows how much road salt, sand and dust may have insinuated into the snow that baked itself into a cold gritty omelet of ice crystal, silt, and sad gray corruption – still, the green shoots poke their way upward.
We excavate through layers and reveal the remains of the old civilization of spring.
That’s the first afternoon. The second morning the crocuses are showing their yellow faces. The rest of the front yard need a facelift as well. We walk the ground inch by inch… Red-streaked tulip leaves. Fat narcissus, opening like upside-down umbrellas.
Old stalks which need clipping. Brown leaf bags filling up like fat babies.
On Sunday, I stake out the first circles in the back garden. The little green ears of the mini-daylilies under the cherry tree need a trimming. I rake around the patch of purple crocuses in the lee of a dogwood tree. These doughty fellows required no help from you or me to find the sun. But raking off the chaff emphasizes the color, set off by the old-new-renewed green of neighboring groundcovers.
They’re there again. They’re there just where they were, as they were. They’re a renewable energy source because looking at them makes us feel green inside.
I work my way around the wide flower island: lady’s mantle, purple salvia, bare semi-sad hydrangea, a tuft of hearty columbine, dry stalks of aster, and over to the achillea, the garden geranium, and the variegated carpets of familiar ground-hugging green back beneath the dogwood.
I move in a circle. We too are winding up the clock of the seasons, the clock of the green world.
It winds me up as well.