“A single crocus blossom ought to be enough to convince our heart that springtime, no matter how predictable, is somehow a gift, gratuitous, gratis, a grace.”
— David Steindl-Rast

Crocus Chrysanthus by George Maw, from The Art of Botanical Illustration by Wilfrid Blunt and William T. Stearn

“Beside the porch step
the crocus prepares an exaltation
of purple, but for the moment
holds its tongue. . . .”
— Jane Kenyon, from “Mud Season”

An exaltation of purple

Crocuses

Crow with crocuses

 

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Crocuses with raindrops

Crocuses with raindrops

Rain
by Raymond Carver

Woke up this morning with
a terrific urge to lie in bed all day
and read.  Fought against it for a minute.

Then looked out the window at the rain.
And gave over.  Put myself entirely
in the keep of this rainy morning.

Would I live my life over again?
Make the same unforgiveable mistakes?
Yes, given half a chance.  Yes.

I can see myself in this poem.  I can easily give myself over to books.  I can’t keep up with all the tantalizing titles that pass through my hands at work.  A couple of days ago, I shelved a book called The Lost Art of Reading Nature’s Signs by Tristan Gooley.  By the time I got home and went online to place the book on hold, I couldn’t remember the exact title.  So I searched the library’s online catalogue for “signs of the seasons.”  I did find the book I was looking for, but some other intriguing titles, too — Pilgrimage to Vallombrosa: from Vermont to Italy in the Footsteps of George Perkins Marsh; Iambics of Newfoundland; The Road is How: A Prairie Pilgrimage through Nature, Desire, and Soul; and Nature-Speak.  So I added those titles to my request list as well. Is it no wonder I can’t stay ahead of my reading?

 

 

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Small Things, Small Doings

February 25, 2014

“Small things, small doings, train our powers of observation . . . Not all of nature’s book is writ large; the fine print is quite as interesting, and it is this that trains the eye.”
— John Burroughs, from The Writings of John Burroughs, “In Field and Wood”

Patches of purple and white crocuses

Patches of purple and white crocuses

The first of our year’s flowers are those short ones that hug the ground — the snowdrops, dwarf irises, crocuses.  The small things.  The small doings of nature.  How we welcome them after the long winter.
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Watecolor sketch of crocuses

Watercolor sketch of crocuses

Another watercolor sketch of crocuses

Another watercolor sketch of crocuses

Crocus collage

Crocus collage

 

 

 

 

 

“What miracles are going on here under the leaves, or an inch or two under the ground!  What awakenings, what shooting of first sprouts!  What an important service dead leaves render — every plant tucked up so tenderly!”
— John Burroughs, from The Heart of Burrough’s Journals, edited by Clara Barrus, March 4, 1865

Emerging tulips

Emerging tulips

I am looking for some miracles as we go through these final weeks of winter.  Any new, emerging growth is cause for celebration — the first spikes of green, the curly brain-like leaves of rhubarb, the shock of crocus colors.

New rhubarb.  (Time to finish up the frozen rhubarb from last year.)

New rhubarb. (Time to finish up the frozen rhubarb from last year.)

Colorful crocuses

Colorful crocuses

Shelf fungus on a stump

Shelf fungus on a stump

Spikes of tulips

Spikes of tulips

Watercolor sketch of emerging tulips

Watercolor sketch of emerging tulips

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Single crocus blossom

Single crocus blossom

“I never see the spring flowers rising from the mould, or the pond lilies born of the black ooze, that matter does not become transparent and reveal to me the working of the same celestial powers that fashioned the first man from the common dust.”
— John Burroughs, “The Grist of the Gods,” from The Art of Seeing Things:  Essays by John Burroughs, edited by Charlotte Zoe Walker

Purple crocuses growing up from the mold

Purple crocuses growing up from the mold

A commonplace miracle — witnessing rebirth, regeneration in spring flowers.

The tiny model for a flower painting

The tiny model for a flower painting

Watercolor sketch of crocuses

Watercolor sketch of crocuses