Spring has come to Birdland, bringing flooding, but also color to the yard and beyond.
Daffodils and jonquils from bright yellow to pale ivory have opened in abundance. They have been blooming for a while, and I was worried the frost we got last week would nip them, but only a few gave up and lay down.
Most of them continue trumpeting their welcome message across the fields: Bees come and do your dance! Here we are!
Tulips have added red and orange and sometimes two-tone blossoms with dark brown centers and stamens. These stand tall above their leaves, opening each morning with the sun, wider, wider, until they are like saucers, powdered anthers doing a balancing trick on the ends of their filaments. When the sun passes over and descends, they begin to close up. They do this dance every day, until the ovaries are swollen below the pistils, and the petals open too wide and drop off.
The ornamental quince has opened its buds into coral blooms, like shells. How many times in this crazy spring did I think their buds (which I think first appeared in February) had succumbed to frost? But they have learned to wait, and here they are, patience rewarded.
I joined Michael on his woodland walk. I had declined his invitation yesterday on account of the wind and the mud. Today, the mud is still there, but the wind has died down.
It's the black dog's turn to come, and Ursula pads on ahead. We cross the field, and Michael points out loaf-sized rocks for me. He knows I like a rock garden, and we've been piling field stones on the edge of the Benson woods. One of these days, we'll bring the garden wagon and fill it with my pile to bring home.
Today, I pick up a few smaller ones, and when my hands are full, he picks up a few too, though he's also carrying his big pruners. We dump them on our pile, and they land, bouncing and clicking against each other.
He leads me down his path, clipping every bush honeysuckle he can find — an invasive that chokes out native flora. We come to a fallen tree — he had already found it on his windy walk yesterday — that has crashed right across his path and pulled down some smaller trees, now trapped under it. Their tiny spring leaves under the great trunk make it look like it's still growing, but no. It's been dead for some time.
I say it was probably yesterday's windstorm that brought it down and yell at him a little for walking under trees on such a windy day. He cuts a new detour around the fallen trunk.
Ursula has run off down a side trail, after some scent. I see her coat through the brambles and call her back. She doesn't come, but she will not lose our scent.
I pick a few ramps and point out the spring beauty that still holds its bloom inside tight buds and the few remaining Dutchman's breeches. Michael tells me the little laundry lines of britches were all over the forest floor last week, and I believe him, because I see far more of the feathery leaves than the few stalks of pants that remain.
Mayapple is here, too, in colonies, and I can almost imagine little woodland animals taking shelter under these green beach umbrellas. I find a few trout lilies blooming — dog-tooth violets and a few yellow violets.
Near the end of our walk —the sun is beginning to set — I find one blooming trillium, its three-petal flower sitting like a ruby in a nest of three dappled leaves. All of these plants are scattered along our trail, but very few are blooming. All I can tell for sure is that the blooms of the spring beauties are yet to come.
We turn back and suddenly Ursula is beside us, leading us toward the meadow. We emerge from the trees, pass our pile of rocks and walk back over the field, picking up rocks to carry across and dump in our second pile in the yard.
If you happen to look out into our field about sunset, you would see the silhouette of a man, a woman and a little black dog walking toward home.
Walk in beauty; bloom in peace; blessed be.
Mary Lucille Hays lives in Birdland near White Heath. You can follow Birdland on Instagram (@BirdlandLetters) and Twitter (@BirdlandLetters). Mary can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or via snail mail care of this newspaper.