I walk toward the wetlands near my house, cardinals keeping me company. I reach the swamp that is still frozen over in some places, and I am to free to walk where I want, right up to the clusters of sleek, plump skunk cabbage, red and orange speckled, in the open rivulets, nestled in the cress.
More cardinals sing up the ridge and farther down along the river. I hear a blue jay, and the call of a pileated woodpecker. Here in the swamp, in spite of the cold wind and the gray sky and ice, I feel untouched by winter.
There is something healing about the way the land lies open all around me. The shallow streams are running, in spite of last week’s deep cold. The cress, garlic mustard, and ragwort foliage remain green and supple. They all defy the brown land around them, and stolidly stand up to February.
Then when I get home in the afternoon, I hear the first dove of spring calling. And when I go out to the back yard to get wood for the stove, a grackle – the first I’ve seen in the yard for months – hops up on the fence. Then a robin flies up from the honeysuckles into a box elder tree. Maybe they came together.
This is Bill Felker with Poor Will’s Almanack. I’ll be back again next week with notes for the third week of late winter. In the meantime, look and listen to the land stand up to winter.