All of natural history is in my favor today, March 18. If I compress my daybook notes from that day, going back to 1983, I can fabricate a quilt of events, webs of color and sound and warming winds to weave into the frame of a twenty-four hour span.
Then, a circadian shape appears, a four-dimensional psychic set, the radius of casual observation cutting through thirty years, cross-sectioning time – albeit with bias against winter – and I fill in the empty spaces of my imaginary structure of backyard natural history, requiring only this one day to make spring arrive.
It is not hard to fashion the one, perfect March 18th.
It’s 1988, and I see the first groundhog feeding by the side of the road. A year later on this day, pussy willow catkins are falling, laden with pollen. Now it’s March 13 in 1990, and the pear trees are all blooming. Now it’s 1991, and the first daffodil blooms. Now it’s 1994 and the first touch-me-nots are up at the swamp.
Here on March 13, 1995, forsythia has started to bloom. And now it’s 2007, and grackles are cackling in the trees and robins are hunting in the lawn. It’s 2009, and buds are fat and swelling on the lilacs. And when I get up this morning in 2012, robins are singing, and peach trees are blooming, apple trees leafing, redbuds showing purple buds.
So all of early spring is right here in one day. And there is nothing false about such a composite. Its selectivity, ignoring the colder March 18ths, is less self-deception than prophesy. Precedent is the cloak that dresses the bare frame of February and tells us where we have been and soon will be.
This is Bill Felker with Poor Will’s Almanack. I’ll be back again next week with notes for the sixth and final week of early spring. In the meantime, gather pieces of the season. Cloak the frame of February.
Thursday noons between March 20 and April 24, Bill Felker will be the moderator of a seminar at the University of Dayton entitled “The Inner Landscape,” discussions about his Poor Will's Almanack readings on WYSO. For more information, call the Special Programs office at the University of Dayton, (937)229-2605.