Celebration of barelythere spring
Mid-week I walked down my second-story hallway at work like a pack mule: A computer bag hung from my neck, one hip carried my purse and the lunch bag bounced on my back. As I reached the west window in the long hallway, I saw what I have been waiting for.
Pink buds from the tulip tree filled the window frame to the outside world. The tree grows at ground-level and the buds are barely open but not yet brilliant.
Spring has sprung. The daffodils are bright yellow bursts along the path at Warner and Legion and some older almond trees are blooming around the city — just to prove that they are not yet dead.
I’ve been waiting. When the international teachers arrived in late January, I pointed out the tulip tree, which was a gangly assemblage of sticks growing on a strong trunk.
“Watch this tree. It will pop soon,” I said, gesturing in my personal form of sign language. When we toured the campus that week, I pointed out the harshlypruned rose garden, where no flowers grew, and the piles of camellia flowers rotting on the green lawn.
Our 18 international teachers from 16 countries will be in Chico until March, long enough to experience early spring. If recent history is repeated, early spring may be as good as it gets.
On this warming planet, humans will need to adapt, which may require forgetting things we learned in childhood.
I read “Farmer Boy” by Laura Ingalls Wilder when I taught third grade. In the book, father tells young Almonzo that the time to plant crops is when the leaves on the tree are the size of a squirrel’s ear. Most modern folk don’t pay a passing glance to the size of the leaves on a tree, and far less than a glance at the size of a squirrel’s ear. However, in the mid 1800s these observations were relevant.
In Chico, for example, we know mid-winter by the sound of geese honking overhead. Lavender blooms around my birthday, almond flowers for Valentine’s Day and daffodils arrive in midMarch.
Even these beauties are less reliable.
Spring, for example, seems to last about two weeks and is immediately followed by the ever-lasting Great Incineration.
Twenty years ago I planned a mini vacay for the coast immediately after Indepen
dence Day. Temperatures in early July were predictably miserable. These past two years I’ve fantasized about a drive to the coast most weekends from June until September. I don’t grow lettuce in the early spring because it’s so hot so soon I can only harvest enough green leaves to garnish my plate.
Some of our current visitors from other parts of the world have said they have two seasons in their countries — wet and dry.
If our weather patterns continue to shift, maybe we’ll come to know the three seasons of Northern California: mild, mildlycold and hot-hot. We can only hope that we won’t
someday experience two seasons 1: head for the hills and 2: head for the coast.
Another way to adapt is to simply appreciate the season, no matter how fleeting.
Quick! Check out the early-blooming narcissus. Flowering quince is here. Catch it while you can.
For those who are wondering about the orange cat, thank you for asking. My plan is to continue boring you with every detail as long as he remains loving and adorable.
There was one night when he did not come home, and I realized I didn’t have a name to holler obnoxiously, pleadingly, desperately out the front door. As I sat alone on the couch waiting and
wondering, I researched cat names.
He’s certainly furry, but some pet names I found online seemed too ridiculous to yell from my front door.
He’s certainly a Furball, but that’s a name chosen by someone who is 6 years old. The alternative names for “furry” were cumbersome, such as Oso, Flaumig or Blewog. Any self-respecting cat would be embarrassed by these names.
Then I settled on another attribute, likely the most important: “friend.”
I chose the name Takota, which means friend in the Sioux language. The next trick will be to repeat the word in the sweetest of tones so he’ll consistently run through the darkness and cast a shadow under the porchlight.