March 17, 2010

Cloud Chaser

Last week I returned to Virginia to find that spring has finally arrived. This morning I woke to the sound of the osprey cackling next door, and practically vaulted from the bed. I stood on my balcony watching as they wheeled around overhead, in a sky as blue and clear as summer. Daffodils are erupting from yards all over the island, though the most magnificent display probably belongs to my neighbors, the Callis'. In the afternoon great dark rain clouds come rolling across the water to drench the island. The ditches are full of green algae and the marshes that lay so undisturbed all winter are suddenly teeming with minnows. I open all the windows to fill the house with new air and sit on the porch in the late afternoon, watching the birds dance around each other in the trees.

This probably all sounds a little absurd, but after this winter I feel entitled to romanticize the heck out of spring. The islanders seem to feel similarly; they've all emerged suddenly to begin mowing their lawns and shining their landlocked fishing boats, though it will probably be a while before either of these things are truly necessary. The little boys who live on Gumthicket were out yesterday, all armed with spears made of driftwood, attempting to lance minnows in the marsh along the road. As I road by they all posed menacingly above the water, letting their spears fly into the brackish water with warrior cries. I visit the lanes left unvisited in the cold months, biking slowly so as to note any changes in this island I have come to know so well. Great swaths of little blue flowers and lime-green moss have erupted in the greening lawns on Gwynnsville, like rashes. The pines on the bayside of the island lean precariously, battered sideways by the high winds of February. The gnomes are gone, and the interior of the Gwynn post office is decorated for St. Patrick's Day.

My favorite thing about spring thusfar is that the maples glow. I have never seen this before. Their branches are tipped in little bursts of buds colored bright orange or red, and when the sun is low the light makes the trees look like they're on fire. At a distance, whole stands of forest will appear to be covered in a strange red blossoming. In a month I'd imagine these red buds will explode into clusters of bright green leaves. For now, I will enjoy this unexpected spring display.

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