A vaguely restless time, these middling weeks in February. At night, there are dreams of wild orchids, trout lilies and columbines, sunlight falling greenly through the trees and songbirds in the leafy canopy. In the wee hours of the morning, I wander the fully leafed out understory, follow the movement of clouds across the western field, harken to bullfrogs in the beaver pond and bees in the wild apple trees by the fence.
By day, I measure icicles dangling from the roof, assess the strength of returning sunlight and the length of shadows in the landscape, watch as snowdrifts recede from favorite trails through the woods, leaving puffs of snow like cotton wool and a fine lacy fretwork behind as they go. Moving along, I find myself listening for the telltale sound of maple sap dripping sotto voce down tree trunks.
... and the birds. That gentle hoot is the unforgettable call of a Great Horned Owl (bubo virginianis) communicating with her mate - he is sitting on their nest in the old oak as she hunts nearby. Other monotonous (and repetitive) notes are the swooping courtship ballad of the Saw-Whet Owl (aegolius acadicus), that fierce little harbinger of the approaching maple sugaring season.
There are all these snowy trees, tiny red buds and artfully frosted grasses to ponder as I wander about with field notebook and camera, and my restlessness vanishes like smoke as I potter - I am contented just to be here and watching as the day unfolds, and the light ebbs and flows. It's a late winter Zen thing, its appearance always an honored guest on the threshold.