Sunday, February 17, 2008

Skagit Valley Spring

By Liz Adair

Thirty years I wrote a poem called Skagit Valley Spring. A transplant from the southwest, I had just lived through my first winter in the Pacific Northwest and noted every sign of spring with the eye of someone sun-starved. I don’t remember much about the poem, except one stanza that went:

Leaden, sodden, gray on gray
Gives way to gray on blue.
Fleeting, fickle, without warmth,
The sun comes shining through.

Not a very happy poem, I’m afraid, but I have learned to appreciate spring in northwest Washington. It starts in early February with the blooming of the filbert trees, and it’s followed by pussy willows breaking out in fuzzy nodules along bare branches. If you have sharp eyes, you can spot pastel crocus just above ground level and shy snowdrops hiding in diminutive greenery nearby.

Then the show starts. By the end of February, daffodils are well out of the ground and swelling with buds, which break into blossoms all through March. Forsythia joins the yellow daffies in scattering mock sunshine through the gray spring days, and in April, tulips paint entire fields, drenching the landscape with primary colors. Azalea bushes seem to be burning with fluorescent blossoms, and massive rhododendrons are jaw-dropping in their splendor.

I haven’t even mentioned the lilacs, tulip trees, laburnum trees, or any of the other flowering shrubs that I’ve never learned to name. Month after month, from spring through fall, one blooming plant succeeds another, ending up with a flourish of dinner-plate dahlias, gorgeous flowers a full ten inches across. To someone raised in barren New Mexico, this truly seems like Eden.

We had sunshine today after about a month of rain. I took a walk and noticed some crocus and snowdrops blooming and noted the daffodils were standing about four inches high. Ah, yes. spring is coming to Skagit Valley.

2 comments:

  1. The best springs I remember with such delight are the ones in VA. I loved the area I lived in, called affectionately Tidewater. And the springs were always slow marching and stunningly beautiful. Here on the Gulf Coast I'm afraid our seasons are hot, extremely hot, not so hot back to hot, ha. It's already hot!!!

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  2. Oh how I miss 4 seasons! Thank you for your beautiful description. I remember searching for pussy willows as a kid and bring home branches for my mom to display. and lilacs! I miss lilacs. However, I did a happy dance when I saw my first African daisy in bloom. Now the neighbors yard is covered with them and thanks to this year's winter rains, their yard will soon be ablaze with oranges, yellows and reds.

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