“Nature . . .the hillside whiten’d with blossoms of the mountain ash . . . beautiful dripping fragments the . . . list of one after another as I happen to call them to me or think of them.” – Walt Whitman from “Spontaneous Me”
Listen to the symphony.
We have collectively begun to recite the words: forsythia, azalea, dandelion, violet, with frequency, articulating and accentuating the rhythm of each syllable. The pleasure of these recitations mirrors the pleasure of seeing such shocks of yellow, such delicate purple eyes peaking shyly from between blades of grass.
When the rhythm of this symphony begins in pianissimo and crescendos to more complex layers, empty spaces left from winter begin to fill in with newly open unfurling. The landscape becomes dense with greens and green-golds of many gradations and radiates, pulsates with electricity that is even more magnetic during gray dizzily days in April when just a bit of white rays penetrate through an epic silver sheath.
Spring moves like an avalanche defying gravity, ascends from the snake-belly earth upward, until it scales the final points of the tallest trees. The land goes from blank canvas to impressionistic masterpiece in a matter of months, as though painted by the hand of a luminist.
From a distance, pixels of dogwood, weeping cherry, red maple and redbud become whole and dot the foreground with an ethereal ballet composed of many arms and branches, bodies entwined, lips and cheeks rouge, warm, ruddy, the color of skin embraced for a long time after being released, finger marks still imprinted, cotton candy tutus, white stockings.
The ephemeral nature of each petal only makes us covet them more. We can’t stop looking, lest they are gone the following day; a hard spring rain may pull down their tresses and almost instantly they would be finis, the symphony of voices subdued to a mute Greek chorus, at least until the season’s next bloom du jour.
We also must taste this symphony just before the crescendo, while we are still hungry, when each bite leaves us wanting more and more is not always easy to come by.
Food in the garden is still sparse, but we feel grateful for what is ready to be eaten and let nothing go to waste, not a single crown of asparagus, not even the fibrous and stingy base we will use for stock. Each day several new asparagus poke out of the earth and point toward the sky, as though reminding us to look up.
After I cut below the earth to the base of the stalks, I raise my eyes toward that moody spring sky that casts petals audaciously in the wind, a wind that both embraces each cell of each leaf and sends the seeds that have already appeared somewhere adventurous to grow.
The wind choreographs everything innovatively, but does not boast. It doesn’t have to. Everyone knows in a single breath it could sweep all this magnificence away.