‘Tis the (vernal) season

Future Frogs of Michaux begin life hatched from egg masses in a vernal pond.Rain beats against my bedroom walls like bacon sizzling on a stove for breakfast I am too comfortable to climb out of bed to prepare or even eat once I had.

It seems only a week ago the crocuses popped out of the mulch and leftover snow to welcome spring and the Persian New Year.

I thought of setting up a camera to capture the blooms opening in the morning sun, and maybe their closing up in the evening. I waited too long. When I finally dragged myself into the grayness of the day, the only clump growing in our yard was lying wilted and flattened by the bacon-sizzle rain.

But nature has arranged that we are not without an increasingly splendiferous show to raise the curtain after the three months or so winter has darkened the theater.

For a few days, the crocuses were accompanied by more and larger beds of daffodils, their golden horns surrounded by white and yellow collars reminiscent of royal trumpeters in now-ancient paintings. And so begins a progressive display of color.

The dogwood buds are swelling outside my window, showing fissures along their tops as they begin to open into an amazing display of divide and multiply. How else to explain how that tiny bud, maybe a quarter-inch across, can become four white and pink petals nearly eight times that size.

Already, the impending blossom-burst is peeking from the dull green buds that have over-wintered. They have waited patiently for this moment, and now the tree’s juices are flowing, its flower petals pushing against their bonds. One morning, perhaps tomorrow, the branches suddenly will become a huge explosion of white and pink.

Out my back window and against the woods, huge yellow masses of forsythia prepare hiding places for song birds and their offspring to hide from passing hawks and other would-be diners. Escaping sparrows and other fledglings care not at all that the thicket, named for 18th Century horticulturist William Forsyth, is an immigrant native to China, Korea and Europe.

A little distance from home, a heavy blanket of red leaves floats over the recently naked slopes of the South Mountains. Red is the real color of the leaves, but chlorophyl will turn them shades of green as they convert solar power into new roosting places for the birds who will bath in the streams and puddles and then preen in the nearby branches.

Along the mountain road, patches of coltsfoot, push their blooms through the duff. Up the road, a larger patch of daffodils enters the competition. I find a vernal pool, so-called because it serves its purpose in spring, then disappears with the winter’s runoff.

Now, the pool is full of eggs, a green mass of tiny globules of impending life. Already, the water is beginning to fill with tadpoles, each about a half-inch long, flitting across partially submerged leaves from last fall’s crop.

The tadpoles – those that do not become breakfast for hungry birds – will lose their tails in the coming weeks, and become frogs. Some of those will feed on the damselflies I see now as larvae.

In the back yard, the Master Painter is applying new hues to the Purple Plum and the cherry and the Silver Maple trees. Birds, except bluebirds, are flocking around. Bluebirds have checked the houses we provided and apparently found them wanting. Blue Jays come in from the woods to raid the feeders and disappear back among the trees.

After a year of televised fright and chaos occupying the evening news, it is nice to see the world asserting that there is, indeed, future.

‘Tis, I’m happy to report, the vernal season.

I hope you enjoyed the journey. Thanks for coming along. Comments are welcome. Before you go, please tap a button to share.

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