It is spring again. The earth is like a child that knows poems by heart. ~Rilke
Even though we have had light snow all day on this vernal equinox, the garden is unfolding into spring. Bloom started with the snowdrops at the end of January, followed by tommy crocus. Last week Iris reticulata ‘Harmony’ added its deep purple notes to the pink and purple flowers of hellebores. Forsythia began blooming yesterday, along with the delicate golden flowers of Lindera benzoin, the host plant for spicebush swallowtail butterflies. Every day brings another bloom, spring is truly here.
Yesterday, we reached the equinox where night and day are equal in length. The official start of the spring season in the northern hemisphere, the day was cold and windy, winter lingering in reality in spite of the calendar and the turning of the world. Yet, the birds knew it had begun. The sound of morning outside my door has evolved from the spare songs of winter, lonely calls punctuating the silence of a sleeping world to the bubbling orchestra of songs and calls that greeted me this morning when I stepped outside. More than anything else, the sounds of returning birds signals the massive change about to occur in the natural world.
The sound of morning birdsong in January.
The sound of morning birdsong in late March.
The snowdrops began blooming last week and the hellebores are starting to show their flower buds (see above). Yes,the garden is beginning to emerge but bloom will be about two weeks later than normal, or at least what has become normal in our changing climate. I’ve already pruned most of the shrubs and trees and began raking the leaves scattered and mounded by winter winds. For me, the garden season has begun, another year of beauty and adventure. Regardless of the weather, I long to spend every moment outside, a witness and participant as the world comes to life. But for now, March is demonstrating its unsteady temperament; this morning’s sunshine has been replaced by a wintery snowfall.
Interested in seeing what the world looked like on the day of the spring equinox? See the photo from space at space.com and learn more about the phenomenon of the vernal equinox. Think spring!
Primavera, the Italian word for springtime, is also the name of Botticelli’s famous painting. I was privileged to see the original in the Uffizi Gallery in Florence, Italy, and stood before it for hours, entranced by its beauty. There are over 500 identified plant species depicted in the painting, including 190 different flowers.
Detail of Flora
As I write this, the earth shifts into the vernal equinox, the time when there is an equal number of hours of light and dark all over the earth, and the official start of spring for the northern hemisphere. I’ve been dreaming of light in dark places lately, even of singing of light in those places. Without light, we cannot see color and it is color that is promised by the arrival of spring. As in Botticelli’s depiction of Flora scattering flowers on the earth, the vernal equinox signals a shift in the turning of the earth to more light and new growth. Happy springtime!