Spring in Bloom

Corneil Byl of Har­ley, Ont., cap­tures the beauty of spring­time in all its glory

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Through the lens of his cam­era, Corneil Byl of Har­ley, Ont., cap­tures the ar­rival of spring in all its glory—and shares the stun­ning im­ages with us.

With a yawn, I stretch my limbs on the thresh­old of our wide- open front door. A cho­rus of chirps, twit­ters, shrills and war­bles washes over me in crys­tal­clear acous­tic qual­ity. The sonorous bombi­nat­ing of a bum­ble­bee reaches my ears from a nearby flower gar­den. Ah, spring. You can feel it down to your toes. You can taste it in the air you breathe. The whole world is wak­ing and flour­ish­ing. Who wouldn’t won­der at the miracle of this in­cred­i­ble sea­son? Dead come back to life; birds and bugs, nonex­is­tent dur-

ing the pre­ced­ing four months, sud­denly ma­te­ri­al­ize and thrive. Wild­flow­ers burst from fields of green, sat­u­rat­ing the land­scape with iri­des­cent hues. A warmish breeze wafts up my nos­trils and I’m ex­hil­a­rated as I step out and be­gin my quest to get up close and per­sonal with this ex­cit­ing new world.

Where I am from— in south­ern On­tario— it is typ­i­cal for us to ex­pe­ri­ence both ends of the spec­trum when it comes to sea­sonal weather. Terms such as “po­lar vor­tex,” “icy con­di­tions” and “re­duced vis­i­bil­ity” com­monly travel the frigid air­waves to our ra­dios in the dead of win­ter, while words such as “heat dome,” “blis­ter­ing tem­per­a­tures” and “hu­mid­ity” rip­ple through the thick haze in sum­mer.

To­day, how­ever, im­mersed in this com­fort­able air tem­per­a­ture and lovely scenery, I am again re­minded why the tran­si­tion sea­sons tend to be my best­loved. With their winds of change and unique beauty, they pro­vide ripe op­por­tu­ni­ties to feed my pho­tog­ra­phy bug.

I don’t have to go far. There is plenty of spring in my own back­yard. Birds flit from branches to

bushes and back again. In our gar­dens, pink, orange and red blos­soms wave in the gen­tle breeze. A move­ment and a flut­ter­ing noise draw my at­ten­tion, and in a blur I catch sight of an un­for­tu­nate worm dan­gling from the side of a robin’s beak be­fore the bird dives into a nearby ev­er­green. A few sec­onds pass and the mother darts off again in pur­suit of new snacks. Cau­tiously, I approach the tree and crane my neck to try and spot the nest.

The tangy but not un­pleas­ant scent of hedge cedar tin­gles my nose as my head bobs up and down in search of the elu­sive nest. Then, sud­denly, there it is, in a soft pool of light—a small grass bowl nestled ex­pertly in the branches and filled with two tiny bod­ies blan­keted in fuzzy down. The baby birds, sens­ing my pres­ence, crane their necks weakly, rais­ing their yawn­ing mouths to­wards me. Needy peeps emit from their tiny frames. So help­less, so vul­ner­a­ble, so frag­ile—like the bright­blue eggs they came from. I nearly for­get there is a cam­era in my hand as I can­not help but feel as though I might sever this del­i­cate bal­ance of life in front of me if I make an­other move. Even­tu­ally, their tot­ter­ing heads are too heavy to hold high and they collapse clum­sily back into the nest. Slowly, al­most re­spect­fully, I raise the viewfinder to my eye. Click. Qui­etly I step back­wards to leave the nestlings’ sanc­tu­ary in peace, paus­ing only to of­fer an apol­ogy for dash­ing their ea­ger hopes of get­ting a tasty tid­bit.

I catch some move­ment in my pe­riph­eral vi­sion that di­verts my at­ten­tion to a lit­tle yel­low bee­tle fight­ing to climb over a chip of bark mulch near my feet. I crouch down to get a closer look. Six tiny legs pad­dle vig­or­ously while two long, seg­mented an­ten­nae feel busily about in front. What kinds of lives do these mini mar­vels of cre­ation lead? It sud­denly dawns on me that as I live my life from day to day, there is a whole world go­ing on un­der my very nose with­out my aware­ness or one iota of my con­trol. Hum­bling. Awe­some. My imag­i­na­tion be­gins to whir. Where is this lit­tle guy head­ing right now as he barely hur­dles the ob­sta­cle in front of him? How does he view this new world of his? Ev­ery­thing would seem so big and im­pres­sive. Or­di­nary gar­den flow­ers would tower high above him with mas­sive stems of green end­ing in broad canopies of daz­zling colour. A gen­tle spring rain would come splash­ing down from the sky as jumbo wa­ter bombs, pound­ing the ground and rat­tling his podomeres. As I muse, the bee­tle clam­bers up the

stalk of a ver­dant peren­nial, tightropes across a leaf stem and stops short at the end of the leaf. Rest­ing briefly to sur­vey the sur­round­ings, he lifts a fore­arm and draws it through his mandibles, rem­i­nis­cent of a kit­ten lick­ing its paws. If by chance he were to turn his gaze just now, he would doubt­less be greeted with a dis­torted re­flec­tion of him­self in a mas­sive disc of en­gi­neered glass. Click.

A rush passes through my veins. There is some­thing truly ex­hil­a­rat­ing and sub­lime when, cam­era in hand, na­ture gives you an ex­clu­sive, serendip­i­tous and of­ten fleet­ing mo­ment to cap­ture. Like that mo­ment when you are fram­ing a shock of pur­ple wild­flow­ers and a Euro­pean skip­per but­ter­fly noise­lessly flut­ters in and alights per­fectly on one of the petals. Click. Or that mo­ment when as you are fol­low­ing a for­ag­ing lo­cust borer bee­tle obliv­i­ous to your pres­ence, it stops for a drink of nec­tar from a flow­er­ing weed. Click. Or that mo­ment when an ad­ven­tur­ous baby chick who is sprint­ing through your lawn grass al­lows you to move in close with your lens. Click. Joy. Ela­tion. Upon re­flec­tion, I be­gin to com­pre­hend that per­haps this sea­son it­self, when ex­pe­ri­enced up close, is an em­bod­i­ment of these feel­ings and sen­ti­ments. In­vig­o­rat­ing. Sub­lime. Tran­sient.

I clip the cover back onto my lens. With a spring in my step, I head back to the house for my late morn­ing tea.

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