The strange, relentless winter seems to finally be departing. I can spot small bits of evidence that the world is waking up from its fitfully long slumber. Much like Rip Van Winkle, nature has grown a little shaggy, a bit bedraggled and worn down from an overlong forced dormancy. Yet I can see the glow and spark of new life and growth aching to burst through.
My Magnolia stellata is a good example. Usually by the end of March, this Japanese beauty has exploded with showy white blossoms covering every inch of its stark, leafless branches. Normally within a few weeks all of the flowers have disappeared, swirling away on brisk spring winds, as if enacting a little play to both mock and honor the previous months of snow. With a wink and a curtsy, the coquettish maiden then unfurls her cloak of green, which is a sign for the other early spring flowers to make their appearance.
This year, however, we’re already a solid week into April and the magnolia has barely allowed a few delicate, slightly ragged looking flowers to peek out from their soft fuzzy buds.
The birds are a little late too this year, and look a bit ruffled and confused. I’ve spotted the first sparrows, robins and those big bullies: the doves. Others, like the cardinals and chickadees who over-winter here are out and about much more, stretching those wings.
The chickadees are always friendly and curious, not easily startled. The cardinals, with all their showy crimson plumage, seem to laugh at my attempts to photograph them. If I’m out walking and have forgotten my camera, I swear they’re teasing me. They’ll land right in front of me practically doing supermodel poses for endless minutes. But the second I’m prepared, waiting waiting so patiently with my camera, there is nary a cardinal to be seen.
Reading up on chickadees just now, I found this cool fact: Every autumn Black-capped Chickadees allow brain neurons containing old information to die, replacing them with new neurons so they can adapt to changes in their social flocks and environment even with their tiny brains.
It would be interesting if humans could do this, selectively cropping out the bad, useless, out-dated thoughts to make way for new growth and change.