Wednesday, 3 April 2019

Tentative steps toward summer

My word, I can't believe how long it's been since I last wrote. My apologies. I feel like I've spent the winter curled up in a ball on the couch, and only now am I starting to emerge timidly into the light, like a mushroom, blinking in the unfamiliar sight of the sun coming up over the rooftops.

Today was glorious, though, and I was drawn out into the afternoon in spite of a wickedly strong wind and chilling temperatures. The sunshine was amazing, the sky was so blue and filled with puffy clouds like wads of quilt batt, and it was impossible not to whistle up Brio and stride out. We hit the path that leads through the woods to the library, Brio's ears flying back in the breeze. He waddles a bit now -- looks like a caramel-coloured sheep, plump from too little walking this winter. Me too, truth be told. Hopefully some of the excess weight will drop off as we increase our activity, energy levels rising with the sap.

The trees are still bare, of course, though the crabapples have just the faintest promise of hazy pink buds starting to form. Walking through the woods at this time of year is odd, really -- during summer you can't see a thing past five feet into the thicket, but in winter you can see right through the bare trunks, the scoured floor of the forest, to civilization beyond. In the summer you aren't aware there are houses around the edges, but in winter you're looking right into people's backyards.

There's no sign of trilliums yet, but in a few weeks they'll be thick and white on the ground. That will be followed by a gauzy veil of palest green as the buds begin to unfurl, the lamb's quarters will shoot up, and the houses will disappear again for a few months, like Brigadoon.

With no foliage on the deciduous trees, you're also suddenly aware of the tall white pines scattered sparsely through the forest. They stand out green and wind-swept like a Group of Seven painting, and the wind rushing through them sounds like the ocean. Sometimes in early morning, when I'm taking the dogs out and it's still pitch black outside, I hear that rushing sound and it seems more like an out-of-control semi truck roaring down on me, and I find myself jumping up the steps and darting back inside as if the truck's fender is on my heels. A silly impression, really, but that sound does tend to scare me just a little. Or "thrill" might be a better word. It makes my nerves jump and suddenly I'm very much awake and alive. A real ocean gives me the same sudden awareness. A feeling of being very small in an immense world.

Walking today, behind the waddling, tongue-hanging-out-with-joy Brio, I could feel the pores in my skin opening up to soak in the sun. The air flung itself against my face, and I was filled with a feeling almost of going back to my childhood. I don't know why it struck me that way, exactly. Maybe the freshness of the air reminded me of being up the canyon. The roar of the wind sounded like a cascading river. Maybe it was just the freedom of it, the clean, refreshing purity of it. The joy of wearing tennis shoes after months of clompy boots. The knowledge that at that precise moment, there was nowhere I needed to go, nothing I had to do, no one I had to be. It was just me, walking in sunshine. Glorious!

Brio, contentedly gaining weight on the couch.

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