Not officially, of course; the first day of spring is still six weeks away, but it's spring here on the coast. The groundhogs know it. The trees know it. And the flowers?
Well, the flowers are verging on ecstatic.
Just a week ago there were only one or two oxalis cheerily blooming along the shore in Alameda, now hillsides are turning yellow. Walking in Emeryville, I saw a cherry tree in full bloom, pink petals already blowing to the ground. Tiny new green leaves dressing out the pink. Walking in North Oakland, I saw a raft of white tulips past their prime, stems arched, petals fully opened and dropping to mossy bricks, curled and still waxy, looking ever so much like satin sails blown from tiny sailing ships that left port way too fast.
Way too fast.
Looking over my journals and my photographic records, I find spring ahead of itself by at least a week, if looking at last year's buds and blooms, and slightly more than that if examining the previous year. Beyond that, I can't say; I was elsewhere.
I know my body, as always, feels grateful for the return of the light and exuberance of spring bloom, but at the same time, this year, I feel confused, inconsistent, and (oddly) somewhat threatened as if I had stupidly abandoned myself to nostalgia, of all things, but awoke inside the future. A bit impossible.
I find myself recalling other early Springs, holding them up for view, sorting them stacking them. One NYC Spring is crystal clear, a Spring when temperatures soared into the 80s by mid-March. I think Spring lasted one day in 1971, or maybe twelve hours. The trees unwrapped their bloom, unfolded their leaves, and it was suddenly (and gloriously) summer.
But this spring is not quite so decisive; instead, it's strangely tipsy, coming and going as springs are wont to do, but somehow, that's okay. Such indecision seems akin to grace.
So, what's a girl to do? Sweep out the basement, package winter's dirt. Go walking, ignore the trash blowing here and there, and focus instead on blues skies and trees, sprouting new leaves and expectant flowers pink and white. Even the pine trees are pushing new needles from cones still held at the end of branches. Beauty enough to make any squirrel feel she's been transported magically back to the pineapple fields of central O`ahu where scrubby grasses and wayward pineapples push against the sacred birthing stones of Kulaniloko, a place of thunder and welcoming.
Welcoming the new, celebrating birth.
New life, the gift of spring.
What We Give
Early Sunday Morning. Blue skies, bird song.
Spring in February. Church bells tolling
and a fire truck parked and idling out front.
Cop cars stopped to either side, windows rolled.
No ambulance. I’m not even dressed yet.
I’ve just left my sleep, dreams of laughing friends,
dancing to mandolins in sunlit rooms.
And now this. Life close to death.
I want to go back to sleep but my dog
wants his walk. By the time I’m ready
to hit the street, the police cars have left
and the fire folk are pouring bleach onto concrete,
hosing blood to sewers. Nobody’s talking.
If truth’s beauty, what’s this before me?
Tomorrow, I’ll dig deep the rich black earth,
plant scarlet runner beans along the fence.