Friday, April 16, 2010


Can’t you just taste the joy in the springtime air? Every morning, for a brief moment, my knees forget they know arthritis. I can run and jump again, I just know it. And even if my stiff joints won’t cooperate, my heart beats faster, my mind works better and my smile gets bigger as the day floats by.

What a wonderful contagion sweeps the nation …

From the John C. Campbell Folk School Spring Newsletter

Dear Friends: Now sings the tufted titmouse “peter peter peter” and the bluebird soars by carrying the sky on his back. The earth has tipped, the days extend, the ground is making worms again. The chickens can’t believe their luck, there’s treasures everywhere. The crows are calling back and forth across the fields. You probably have noticed roadkill never includes crows, though they spend plenty of time in the road. This is because they help each other out. When one is in the road, there’s always another one up a tree yelling, “Car! Car.”

Two Springs

New York Times: March 29, 2010

Lately, I’ve been studying celestial navigation, the seafaring kind that requires a sextant, a chronometer, and a nautical almanac. It’s a way of adding a little trigonometry to a life that’s mostly addition and subtraction.

I began this project just as spring arrived and noticed that spring, to navigators, isn’t so much a season as a point. There it is in the nautical almanac, just between 5 and 6 p.m. (make that between 17:00 and 18:00) on March 20 — when the sun passed from a southern latitude to a northern latitude.

There’s more to it than that, which is one of the basic rules of celestial navigation. Spring is the vernal equinox — one of two points of intersection between the ecliptic and the celestial equator. (The other is the autumnal equinox.) It’s also the moment when the sun reaches what’s called the First Point of Aries, a fictional line of demarcation, like the Greenwich Meridian, that happens now to be in Pisces.

I am not going to try to explain these things since I’m just beginning to grasp them myself. But this much seems to be true: In the nautical almanac, spring comes like clockwork, whether the snow has already withdrawn or is falling fast. The table of hour angles and declinations that pinpoints celestial spring seems to say, “Here it is, just where it always was. Make what you will of it.” It’s all dreadfully precise.

And then there is terrestrial spring, which is a matter of hints and wishes, promise and hope, a season that is only vaguely calendrical. On the first day of spring, I was driving along the Shields River in Montana looking out at a season that is really called “calving.” It was nearly over. Most of the new calves wore eartags and moved with confidence. Some chased each other across the fields and around their sober dams, as though they could never grow up to be that stolid. A few seemed already businesslike, thuggish, looking across the fence line at a wider and more forbidding world.

Along the edge of one creek-bottom ranch, a cow had just given birth, the umbilical still trailing from her as she tried to lick her calf to its feet. It rose and stumbled. The cow seemed both agitated and patient, eager to have her calf on its feet, but somehow certain that it would be soon. I moved down the road because there were other things for her to think about besides me. On a tree in the next pasture there were six bald eagles, waiting. There were ravens on the fence and magpies in the ditch, their young yet to come.


I wish y'all could see the Texas bluebonnets this year.


The South Plainsman said...


Paula said...

I hope you saw Kathleen Scott's bluebonnet posts:

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