Feathers and Stars

I think we say this every spring, but the weather has been taunting us. We’ve had glorious tastes of springtime, followed by chilly, winterish days, followed by summer weather, then snowstorms. That cycle has repeated itself a few times and, as I type this, the most beautiful snow is falling outside my window, a snowstorm that began at midnight on Sunday.  I’m sure we’ve had 8-10″ by this point, in two different cycles of snow, much of which melted off in between, and it is still coming down relentlessly.IMG_8557e
IMG_8503eIn spite of the untimeliness of a snowstorm at this time of year, I can’t help but be awestruck by the beauty of snow, particularly falling snow. Part of me would prefer balmy spring weather and wildflower hunting, but the enchantment of a snowstorm – of trees in the snow, of snow-covered hillsides, of snow falling with a soft sound from heavy-laden branches, of footprints in the snow, of the silence of a snowed-in world – is hard to resist.IMG_8554eEnya, in her song “Amid the Falling Snow,” writes, “A million feathers falling down, a million stars that touch the ground.” That song is one of my favorites, and those lines have always stuck with me.

Feathers and stars, and a world transformed. Winter can last a little longer.

Spring Again

Another spring is here – for real, this time. We may get some more snow (likely, actually), but when the pasques are out, spring is really, really here.
IMG_8177eI found these on a little trail in Rapid City just before a piano lesson last week. What a lovely find! There are a few other wildflowers I really get excited about, but pasques are particularly special. They mark the end of a long winter, and the beginning of beautiful weather and the promise of more living, blooming things, and of vivid, rambunctious color coming back to the landscape!


The Waking

Springtime stirs in the last of her sleep. Winter lingers awhile longer in the Black Hills, but the earth is warming, primed for life and growing and greenness. As much as I love the winter, I’m craving flowers and sunlight and bare feet and sun-warmed skin. I revel in lung-filling breaths that don’t hurt, and breezes that don’t sting, and light with more color. What a glorious time of year.IMG_7855
IMG_7953Rivulets of melt glisten on the roads, trickling from rocks and roofs and hillsides with the sound of warmth. The memory of winter fades. There is mud everywhere and on everything, absolutely inescapable. The sky is ridiculously blue.

The silence of winter has been broken: by the calls of birds coming back after their winter vacation, that quality of the wind music that is somehow different than in the winter (though I can’t say how, exactly), the buzz of insects, the sound of moving water, the soft noise of wet earth underfoot. Fragrances that go dormant in the winter come alive in the first warming days of spring. The scent of the pine trees. The scent of the good earth.

Earth has slept the sleep of winter. At last it’s time to wake.


A Million Invisible Choristers

I love the sweet sounds of springtime. Especially the sounds prompted by a good, wet rain. Over the past week, we’ve been blessed with more than 3 inches of rainfall, and a chorus has burst into song out in our stock dam. We hear them at at night, singing heartily with the insects, and even during the day their song is tireless. It is amazing how beautiful the ruckus is when a million frogs start singing.
IMG_7254eBut as beautiful and joyful as the song is from a short distance, up close it is stunningly deafening! I was amazed and delighted. I poked around along the banks of the giant mud puddle searching the tufts of grass and smooth brown water for any sign of the little creatures. Not a one was to be seen. Not the smallest plop or telltale rippling of the warm water. I tossed a pebble or two, trying to disturb one enough to make him hop, but they kept right on singing and paid absolutely no attention to me. I could hear them, mere feet away from me, but I couldn’t catch even a glimpse of them. It baffled me, that creatures so tiny and so invisible could be so utterly deafening.
IMG_7251eOne of my favorite springtime sounds.

Breathtaken by Aspens

Just behind our cabin and against an old gate grows a stand of slender aspen trees. No one knows why Grandpa planted them against the gate, but that’s where he planted them, and that’s where they’re flourishing. They’re placed just so, so that when seen from the cabin in the morning hours in the summer, the leaves glow and flicker and glint like little green flames. And in the spring when their catkins are blooming, when the morning sunlight catches in the little hairs in just the right way, the aspens and their grey and pink catkins become a pale cloud of silvery, shimmering lights. The effect is breathtaking, startling, and a slightest change in the light breaks the spell.
IMG_4908eHow often that is the case! Something of exquisite beauty cuts us to the soul, and fades as quickly as it appeared. I think that is part of God’s goodness, to show us glimpses of breathtaking beauty, but then, as if to remind us that we aren’t meant for this world, He leaves us with the only memory of it and a desire for more. Perhaps that is one reason I love photography – I can try to capture that memory and hold it dear a little longer, a little nearer, and remember it a little clearer. What delight!

The Hunt for Spring

The hunt began a week ago. I prowled around a certain hilltop about a mile’s hike from my house, a certain spot for pasque flowers. They grew there in abundance last spring, and I just knew I’d find them there again this year. The first two hunts, in spite of the warm weather, turned up nothing. But today, in spite of the snow and fog and freezing temps, turned up tiny, fuzzy, baby pasque flowers. They were nestled in beds of pine needles, almost invisible. I gently untucked them, took a few pictures, and re-tucked them in.  They stood probably about an inch and a half high, or less.
IMG_4158ecIMG_4149eIMG_4129ec“Just one, LORD,” I had prayed, smiling, wading through last years grasses, following deer trails up one hill and another, through clearings and stands of snow-covered juniper and pine to get to my hill. “Let me find just one.”

He let me find four.