Signs of Spring

 Signs of Spring: Nob Hill, Portland, Oregon.

“It’s spring fever. That is what the name of it is. And when you’ve got it, you want – oh, you don’t quite know what it is you do want, but it just fairly makes your heart ache, you want it so!” …Mark Twain

Signs of Spring: Nob Hill, Portland, Oregon.

I start looking for early signs of spring in February. But in the Northwest, spring doesn’t arrive with any conviction until March. I know this. I know it absolutely. It doesn’t matter. I still start looking.

Signs of Spring: Nob Hill, Portland, Oregon.

One of the first signs is the occasional sighting of a rubber boot clad woman scraping a rake across a disheveled and frigid lawn. Why is it that these early harbingers of spring always look like they’ve never held–much less effectively used–a rake before?

Signs of Spring: Nob Hill, Portland, Oregon.

There’s a certain lack of commitment in their motions. I hold myself back from grabbing the rake out of their hands. “Here, give it to ME.”

Signs of Spring: Nob Hill, Portland, Oregon

Another sign is that I strip off my heavy jacket and scarf halfway through the hour long trek through the Northwest neighborhood, otherwise known as Nob Hill. And then grumble about having to carry them for the next half hour.

Signs of Spring: Nob Hill, Portland, Oregon

And then I begin to hear this strange, bird-like voice oohing and cooing over every tiny bit of color emerging from the sodden ground. Oh wait, that’s MY voice. I sound like a wonder-struck space alien who has never seen a flower before. This new world feels miraculous. The only rational response is wonder. And gratitude.

Early Signs of Spring: Nob Hill, Portland, Oregon

Clusters of tiny, sparkling daffodils dot walkways. The amazing form. The brilliant color.

Signs of Spring: Nob Hill, Portland, Oregon

Even smaller purple, blue, and orange crocus peak out from under scraggy, bare bushes.

Signs of Spring: Nob Hill, Portland, Oregon

A brilliant white camellia commands attention against a background of glossy green leaves. A miracle that it wasn’t marred by the recent rain.

Signs of Spring: Nob Hill, Portland, Oregon

The first stand of hyacinths take my breath away with their color and their intoxicating fragrance. I cup them in my hands to take in the fullness of the scent.

Signs of Spring: Nob Hill, Portland, Oregon

There’s forsythia too, here and there. And a mass of unusually diminutive tulips in one yard only.

Signs of Spring: Nob Hill, Portland, Oregon

And the first pastel pink cherry blossoms—mostly in tight bud–entire blocks on the verge of busting into full and glorious blossoms.

Signs of Spring. Nob Hill, Portland, Oregon.

And then I notice the bird-voice lady slip a tiny pair of kid’s scissors from her pocket and begin to snip a little blossom here, a leafy twig there. Not too much from any one place. Surely no one will mind such careful and spare appropriation.

Just tiny offerings to the spirit of spring.

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