Spring colors have been vamping it up all over town – daffodils, tulips, grape hyacinth, the frothy pink and white blossoms of the cherry, plum, magnolia, and dogwood trees, to name a few. The gaudy celebratory technicolor blossoms bring unfettered joy. You can’t not notice, no matter how grumpy or anxious you’re feeling.
After celebrating that frenzy of color and rebirth, I began noticing the backdrop of the quieter plants, the greenery, the natives. They’re doing a happy dance of their own, their desire on parade, just not as flashy as the flowers.
We head out to the nearby Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge for birdwatching, as well as meandering, (wait, aren’t those the same thing?). The twitterpated birds are fun to follow in spring, but this time my eye stays closer to ground level, where the greening of the trees has me rapt and attentive. Once I notice their spectacle of seeds and pods and husks jutting out in all directions, I can’t unsee them, and am drawn closer.
Everywhere I look there’s tree porn. The pathways are rife with the exuberance of the trees and all their dangly bits, flaunting their fecundity, parading procreation. The maples spill their seeds, which cascade outward from a casing, and the conifers project pendulous cones, coquettishly sheathing their seed. The hazelnut sports both male and female parts, and the male catkins swing from the branch like a small brown cigar next to the feathery magenta tuft of the female flower.
From the top-most canopy to the lowest shrubs, the woodland and swamp denizens thrust their joy upward and outward, a come hither look if I’ve ever seen one. Everything is doing what they’re meant to do, relishing reproduction with a flourish, having a big old party in their bark, right there for all to see if we only remember to look.
The down side of course is sneezing your way through the season, or for me, the spray of pollen that lodges in my eyes, feeling like small boulders. But perhaps I am being inseminated in some strange way, becoming part plant myself. One can only hope.
Spring flowers are a show-stopper, lifting my heart after the long winter months. The new green leaves are subtle, often indiscernible and elusive if you’re not looking. Those green buds mark long term growth and gradual change. They have the important tasks of sustaining the tree in the hotter weather, doing the hard work of photosynthesis, and providing shade for all that lies beneath. So much more of course, I’m no botanist, just an enthusiast of the lessons, the strength, and the sustenance. A groupie perhaps.
Meanwhile, hundreds of geese fly directly overhead, back and forth and around, Cackling Geese and Canada Geese, loudly celebrating the season. We see a Downy Woodpecker, Spotted Towhees, Chickadees, plus Swallows and ducks a-plenty. A fellow birder (so kind!) points out a hidden Bushtit (a lifer!).
Alan does the bird photo thing, which he is doing so well these days. Go see his pics.
Then get outside and enjoy the tasteful burlesque peep show. It’s free, satisfaction guaranteed.
Instructions on Not Giving Up— Ada Limón
More than the fuchsia funnels breaking out
of the crabapple tree, more than the neighbor’s
almost obscene display of cherry limbs shoving
their cotton candy-colored blossoms to the slate
sky of Spring rains, it’s the greening of the trees
that really gets to me. When all the shock of white
and taffy, the world’s baubles and trinkets, leave
the pavement strewn with the confetti of aftermath,
the leaves come. Patient, plodding, a green skin
growing over whatever winter did to us, a return
to the strange idea of continuous living despite
the mess of us, the hurt, the empty. Fine then,
I’ll take it, the tree seems to say, a new slick leaf
unfurling like a fist to an open palm, I’ll take it all.