Warmth is missing in my signs of spring series. (My young friend’s mother offered an alternative version by email: photos of rotting snow banks, standing water, and moose nuggets – welcome signs of Alaska spring!)
But here we lament the lack of warmth. Cliff Mass, the Washington weather guru, put some numbers to our chill. He requires 55° to declare a spring day (I’d settle for 50° and no wind). Mass says only two days reached 55° by April 15 – the fewest on record. Last year, by this time, we had 26.
On April 18, the thermometer briefly read 60°, and the indicators of spring – most known by the work of the Green Man – accumulate into a declaration.
Imaginary he may be, the pagan symbol of spring, clad only in leaves in spite of the temperatures, but I take heart from his presence. His flush, a chlorophyll blush, is reassuring even when the wind blows. Tiny new leaves of ocean spray begin to soften the gray trunks of our surrounding Doug fir, and bronze-green bracken soldiers, just inches tall, arms still furled, stand up overnight.
In the woods new elderberry and salmonberry leaves recolor the sienna and gray winter scene. Thick green moss spreads velvety fuzz on stumps and logs, and dresses the tops of fence posts in green spring hats along our little road.
The mason added a niche in the outside of our fireplace chimney when we built our house. In the past I’ve tried flowers in vases, candles, and little stone stacks in the niche, but the west wind blows most anything out of that space.
Except the Green Man. On a garden tour with my clever friend, I purchased a version of the mythic man at the garden of the sculptors Little and Lewis. From his shrine-like space he weathers storms and oversees spring.
He’s great in sunshine also – and must be ready to be warm!