The sun is sinking low in the western sky, on a perfect track with the road I live on that runs in a straight line from east to west. This is the time of year that folks around here usually keep snow boots and shovels in our cars in anticipation for yet another snow storm, but the temperature is still a balmy seventy-something, another in a string of perfect summer days...in March. I put pansies in planters outside the other day, for heaven's sake.
The hair is still damp on my neck from the exertions of dragging a large assortment of trash trees, woody vines, and jumbles of branches that sport wickedly deadly thorns into one larger pile for burning in the back yard later. Yes, the chain saw came out early this year. And when warm weather hits, I know from experience that there is only a small window of opportunity--between when the snow melts and the grass is dry underfoot, and when the trees and shrubs fill in with leaves--to make headway on trimming back nature's encroachments. Only a short time when you can look into the trees or bushes preparing to hang in to the driveway, and see what else they are tangled up with. The deadfall from a winter storm, the vines holding them fast to the tree standing behind, the outstretched arms of thorny things that, if you do not take care, will leave your bare arms looking like you've been wrestling with a circus lion.
I have another, larger pile of things to burn in the front yard. This will light quickly, since it contains some pine branches and the balsam fir that was the Christmas tree. But I'm exhausted from the dragging, and have no wish, without the man in my life beside me, to start a bonfire and tend it into the wee hours of the morning. The goddess of firetending in me will just have to wait for another day. There are things that are better shared, and standing under a dark sky full of stars bright as diamonds while sparks and cinders waft upwards, is one of them. So I've rented the animated film "Puss n Boots" to watch this evening. Like I'd ever get the man in my life to sit still for THAT one!!
Though I won't lack for company, with the dog and the two cats vying for attention when I finally settle in on the sofa. Lucky is the dog, and one of the cats is Meatball. Meatball belongs to my older son, but has been living here for the past seven months. He has the personality of a stalker, the vocal ability of a bird, the conversational ability of Jay Leno. I just with I knew what the heck he keeps trying to tell me all day long. But one thing that really makes him stand out in a crowd is the fact that he like to go on long walks in the woods with Lucky and me. I come home after work and, now that it's daylight, I've got Lucky and the Meatball both hovering at the front door for me to get into my hiking clothes and take off down the path. You haven't really experienced the joy of cat ownership until you've seen a short-haired cat with black and white markings like a milk cow come flying across the countryside to catch up wtih the pack like a cow pony heeding the rustle of a feed bucket. Yes, today's walk was utterly splendid too.
I love the spring equinox, that tipping point where the days finally start to outweigh the nights, a few minutes at a time. I know a lot of people get excited about the first day of summer, but for me, by the time we've hit June 20, it's all downhill after that. The days get a wee bit shorter, and despite the looming heat of summer, the calendar reveals that winter is just a foregone conclusion. I left the house earlier than usual this morning, because I needed to drop my car off at the dealership to check on a mystery problem. As the country road I drove on turned east on a curve, I suddenly spied the rising sun. It was a bright fuschia, and glorious. And as I rounded the curve, I could see it gleam off the surface of a smaller east-west road amid arching trees, and I remembered what day it was, and the perfect symmetry of such a sunrise aligned with our meager attempts to put our own human stamp on our surroundings. It was almost enough to get me to backtrack and take that side road, just for the worshipful experience of driving into the rising sun. But duty called, and the fact that I needed to get to work somewhat nearly on time kept me on course. But as I drove, I stole glances to the east, and as I passed through hilly and beautiful terrain, I noticed that the fuschia glow of the early sky reflected pink off the surface of the small lakes and streams that I passed by. It was magic.
Tomorrow, the day after the equinox, will be just a tad longer under the sun than today, and so on and so on. I don't know how long this glorious weather will last. I know that there are thunderstorms forecast for the next several days and so I won't be meandering through the woods with Lucky and the Meatball, or starting up any bonfires with confidence. But I'll be thinking back often to that fuschia sunrise, and the way it gleamed off the surface of the water, and conjuring this day often if the season turns back to the snow and the cold that we have every right to still expect.
Causes Mary Wagner Supports
Washington County, Wisconsin Human Society
Crohns and Colitis Foundation
Chicago Writers Association