Letter from Birdland: Big moon offers promise of springs to come

Good morning from Birdland! Last night, the spring moon bounced off the snow and lit up the sky like daylight in a dream. Sometimes a big moon can keep me awake, but this time it was really calling to me.

I was sleepy — yet wanted to wander out into the silvery fields and dance by the light of the moon just like a Buffalo Gal.

The first full moon after the equinox is always welcome, just like a seal on the promise of spring that the equinox brings. I needed this reminder: Last week's blizzard seemed like the return of winter. A last hurrah?

Once again, we heard it was coming. Weather reports and Facebook accounts warned of 6 inches of snow.

I eyed my peach trees, whispering "wait a little this time," and they seemed to listen, though the bulbs bravely push up their greens — ghost lilies, tulips, daffodils. The peaches wait poised to push out their buds.

Ellis and I were in town visiting when the snow began. My youngest and I saw it from the window.

My aunt told us, "you'd better go. It's starting," but we laughed it off and lingered a little. The tiny flakes were just floating down out of the gray sky, like white pepper. "It's not even sticking!" we said.

But soon the tiny flakes changed to big, wet fat ones, like cauliflower floating out of the sky, and by the time we walked back to the car we were leaving big, wet tracks in the new snow.

We decided on a quick errand on the way home: to the drugstore for hearing aid batteries. We were out and didn't want to shout at each other for the rest of the weekend.

In just the minute we were in the store, the sky had changed. Now it was darkening and coming down faster. The wind was picking up. Ellis drove, and we decided to take Illinois 10 home instead of the interstate. Usually that's the more conservative option. We can drive more slowly, save a little gas, see more of the passing landscape. But as soon as we got out of town, I realized the highway would have been more clear — and we wouldn't be meeting oncoming traffic.

It was really coming down now, and the wind blew the driving snow straight into our windshield. Imagine me in the passenger seat trying to knit, but grim-faced, giving directions every few minutes. "You need to go slower here." "Don't use the cruise control when the roads are slick."

I found myself echoing the wisdom of my grandfather: "You'll get there about the same time." Now and again, dropping my knitting to grip the dashboard: "Slow down NOW!"

When we turned south onto the country roads toward home, we could see the drifting had started. So far nothing our little car could not plow through, but we were very glad we didn't wait any longer to head home. By the time we saw the corn crib on our corner, it was nearly a whiteout. We could just make out the sloping roof, the grid pattern in the side as we slowly passed.

I told Ellis again it was a good thing we left when we did. From here we could navigate mostly by feel, and by heart. We pulled into the lane and could see nothing but snow, until a silly black dog came bounding toward us, stark against the whitescape.

We went inside to hope for the call from the school, pronouncing Monday snow day. The weather reports were for more snow after midnight. That finally came just as we were heading to bed.

Next morning, we debated the merits of various snow day breakfast fare. Waffles, crepes or pancakes? Pancakes won, and we made two batches. The snow plow went by after noon sometime. The sun was out, sparkling brightly on the peaks and drifts shaped by the wind of the night before.

The snow is melting now, and patches of winter grass and naked field show. But it still covers enough of the land to bounce the light of the moon to light up the prairie all night long.

The sun is up now, and the big moon, now orange, still hangs for a few moments longer over the western field. Good morning, moon! Come back again tonight.

Dance in beauty; return in peace; blessed be.

Mary Lucille Hays lives in Birdland near White Heath. She is interested in the cycles of the seasons and her own back yard. You can read more of her writings at http://www.letterfrombirdland.blogspot.com. She can be reached at letterfrombird land@gmail.com or via snail mail care of this newspaper.

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