I get up an hour earlier than usual: the Time Change. I go outside; it's on the warm side of cool, has been for twenty-four hours. I walk toward the truck and am stopped in my tracks by a visitation: winged forms dance above the pasture in the morning light. I hear their song: "Fear not, we bring you tidings of great joy...!" Swallows. Violet Green Swallows. They have brought the first green into the valley. They rise higher and higher and pass overhead. My gaze rises with them.
I drive, and think of the host so far: Redwingeds, Robins, and, more recently, Killdeer, filling the days and nights with their restless flight and cries; Meadowlarks burbling like brooks; a Phoebe shyly flitting into the shed to see if there is a vacancy among the nest-friendly lighting fixtures.
My route takes me past Bass Lake, and I stop. The ice has retreated to each of the far ends. Many waterbirds dot the open water in the middle. I try to sneak up on them, but they rush off with a great ruckus.
I zoom in on the Trumpeters along the far shoreline; later, in editing, I spy the Canada Geese high in the cheap seats behind them.
The road home takes me along the river. There are no Eagles on the great ramshackle nest high atop a pine tree. But on down the road I see one on a favorite perch. As I move quietly toward it another Eagle lumbers around the bend hauling a big fish. It holds the fish in one foot, and the fish swings back and forth, its sides catching the light.
That Eagle keeps going. I get some shots of the first Eagle until it lifts off to get its share of lunch.
I head on home to do the same.
In early afternoon the first thunderstorm of the year rolls through. We sit and watch the rain and sleet pepper the deck, and listen to the grumble of thunder.
After one long, low peal of thunder my son asks, "Does this mean winter is over?" I remember a poem by Mark Van Doren.
Listen. The wind is still,
And far away in the night--
See! The uplands fill
With a running light.
Open the doors. It is warm;
And where the sky was clear--
Look! The head of a storm
That marches here!
Come under the trembling hedge--
Fast, although you fumble.
There! Did you hear the edge
of winter crumble?
I have been anticipating some time on the river Monday to celebrate the longer days. I check the weather report.
Monday: Snow. High near 32. South wind between 10 and 18 mph, with gusts as high as 21 mph. Chance of precipitation is 100%. New snow accumulation of 4 to 8 inches possible.
Monday Night: Snow. Low around 27. South wind between 10 and 13 mph becoming calm. Winds could gust as high as 20 mph. Chance of precipitation is 90%. New snow accumulation of 2 to 4 inches possible.
I still see the green flash of the Swallows. I still hear their joyous song.