This is how the pansies looked this morning in spite of fall temperatures and the threat of measurable snow in the forecast.
It took a long time this year for the idea of spring to take hold in Madison. This year we experienced one of those mighty cold–but not overly snowy winters–where the sustained freezing temperatures made many wonder if it would ever again be warm. But the promise made by the seed catalogs once again proved true, as the first blooms of the year are dotting the lawn, and other reminders are all about alerting us that spring is here.
On Thursday morning I awoke to the sight of Lake Monona without any ice, though it was reported that some floating frozen chunks were on the Monona side given how the wind had blown strong enough to assist in melting during the night.
Wednesday evening the lake–for the most part–was still covered with ice, but within about 12 hours Mother Nature had turned the page on the scene and allowed for sunshine to again sparkle, dazzle and shimmer on the water. Almost immediately MG&E work crews were out removing the barrier for the warm water outlet. The barrier extends into the lake each winter to alert walkers and fishermen where warmer water is discharged, and the ice is thinner.
Looking out onto the lake there is no longer any evidence we felt the harsh winter winds that blustered their way over the drumlin that sits up off the lakeshore and seems to add another element to the experience of living here. The winds always are blowing, sometimes as a gentle breeze and other times with gusto that seems to rake its way with more intensity to the front of our home in winter.
But today the lake is glassy and serene. Adding to the charm are the loons that returned in time to land on open water. (Loons are not capable of taking flight without the aid of water.) Hearing the sad-like calls of these birds, and watching them dive under the water, and be absent for perhaps 20 seconds or longer, only to reappear some distance from where they went under is now a part of my spring checklist.
As the loons call and feed I am reminded that my Dad would have enjoyed the simple joy of sitting and watching this play out on the lake. Three years ago this evening he passed away at the family home in Hancock, Wisconsin. Both of my parents watched the wildlife back home that darted about in the fields or flew into the yard, or nested in the trees that surrounded our home. There was always an awareness–even though we never had pets when I was a child–that animals made our life more special.
During the last years my parents were together much interest was given to a large raccoon that lived in an oak tree near to the garden. I recall one Sunday dinner that was about to be served when it was spotted lumbering out on a limb. The three of us got our shoes on and walked out into the yard to get a closer look. Dad made the announcement she looked pregnant and we all stood there for a while looking at what turned out to be a renter that year out on the lawn.
Back home each spring my parents would part the leaves from where certain plants should be popping up, or bulbs that were planted with much hope the previous fall should be producing green leaves. Nothing has changed for me as I am always on the hunt for the first blooms of the season. James and I spotted them this week, and nearby as my better-half scooped some leaves away from another patch of ground we spotted a sure-tell sign of spring. The red stems of rhubarb sprouting from the earth. These same plants once were lined along the white fence back home in the family garden.
With spring comes the joy of renewal and the fulfillment of a promise that everything has its time and place and if we wait and hold tight to the bigger truths everything has a way of working out. We look forward to the new blooms and walk towards them, but always with the memory of past seasons in our heart.
What a soft gentle scene is being created outside this morning in Madison, Wisconsin. With a light snow falling, and some leaves coming down too, the ground is speckled with white and yellow. Meanwhile the roses still in bloom on many of our bushes are frosted with flakes.
So with the photos comes a song that instantly came to my mind as I walked outside. By the time I walked inside I was humming it.
There is joy to be found everywhere if we just look. This butterfly was having a great time with our zinnias.