Editorial: Spring is a wash of color – don’t miss it!
If fall is the peal of maul on wedge, spring is the scritch of rake and swish of broom, the scream of the line leaving the reel, the chorus of peepers in the upland swamp, the piercing trill of the tree frog and the song of ball off bat. From the bushes on the fence line a white-throated sparrow calls, “Sam Peabody, Peabody, Peabody,” over and over again as if to summon a child outside to play.
More than anything, this week at least, spring is a wash of color. It’s the green of Cezanne’s apples. In trees like willow it’s more yellow than green. In woods that run heavy to maple a softer, less showy reversal of fall’s green-to-red change is under way. The maples have been sporting deep red buds for a month or so, which have now given way to tiny leaves and the beginning of the whirlygigs that will sail on the wind in the fall.
Pluck a small leaf, say an inch or so long, from a red maple and see the battle between red and green playing out. The leaf’s veins are already a bright lime green, but between them the leaf is a wash of green and deep red. With a bit more light and warmth the leaf will produce enough chlorophyll to mask the red until, as the light fades in fall, red will regain supremacy, flanked in trees like sugar maple, by brilliant yellows and golds.
It takes just three or four days, depending on the species, for the leaf bud to open, the leaves to unfurl and begin to grow. Not many more days after that the leaves darken and the chartreuse green that glows with youth and promise will vanish for another year. The young leaves are thin and glow softly when backlit by the sun.
The cherry trees have begun to bloom and the azaleas are a riot. The apple blossoms and rhododendrons are a week or two away. At the edge of the forest the first of the bluets show their tiny faces. The black flies are out. They haven’t begun biting in earnest yet, but give them time. Brooks and streams are low and the dirt in the garden bone dry. As beautiful as the sunny days have been, everything badly needs rain.
It’s warm, and on Sunday a bouquet of girls in bright colors decorates the church steps while boys race around like tadpoles under attack in a puddle.
It’s time for the lawn to give back. Pick the dandelion blossoms, pack them in a big glass jar, steep them in boiling water for a few hours and strain to make dandelion wine. The violet blossoms dotting the lawn grow thick in spots missed by the lime. They should be admired, then picked and eaten in salads or used to make violet vinegar.
On the ponds the ospreys dive, the loons submarine and trout leap for the lucky. So forget the chores, put a book atop the to-do list, and go to a ball game, chase the trout or just go out and soak in the green.