It's been two weeks since I’ve come to the cabin. The last time I was here, a three-foot wedge of snow created by the snowplow driver had stubbornly resisted all my efforts to hack at it so I could get my car in the driveway. In the backyard, my picnic table was almost buried under four feet of snow, and I thought I wouldn’t be able to enjoy a meal out there until maybe June.
But when I drove up to the cabin this week I was amazed to find all the snow gone, as if some mysterious force—a warm wind, rain, warm temperatures—had conveniently and painlessly removed these huge piles.
In its place were the pasqueflowers (left), adorning the brown landscape with purple light. There is no other way to describe them, these small cups of almost translucent purple petals that fill with sunlight. Despite their apparent delicacy, they must be tough because the next morning I found them slightly frozen in the snow (below), after the storm that left an inch or so on the ground.
From the meadow below my cabin I could hear the frogs singing, although song is perhaps not the right word for their low-pitched guttural sounds, but it seems like a song to me, because, along with the pasqueflowers, the frogs are one of the first signs of spring up here.
When I went for my hike, I was torn between getting some aerobic exercise, charging up the hill with my heart pounding, or taking it slow, noticing everything. I opted to dilly-dally, stop whenever I wanted to look at something more closely.
Everything had a story to tell. Cabin Creek was a torrent of rushing muddy water, which meant a lot of snow was melting in the high mountains. At the spot where a waterfall flows over a cliff into the creek, mysteriously, the rock was dry, yet when I retraced my steps about 45 minutes later, some water was flowing down the rock. I’ve never known where it came from, and why would it come and go?
I almost passed the huge ant hill without seeing it, but having just watched the “Life” nature show, I was more attuned to the world of insects, which is almost invisible to us. Yet here is a huge complex society, hundreds of ants, all moving in some purposeful way, unknown to me, some carrying pine needles four times their size. What did they do all winter, buried under the snow? And what are they so busy doing now?
And on the pond on the other side of the creek, four male mallards (one is shown above) were enjoying the fact that the pond was half melted. But where were their mates?
The next day, I walked on the road around Meeker Park, admiring the new blanket of snow on Mount Meeker. Down here in the valley bottom, water was everywhere, running down the hillsides and pooling in the meadow. Aside from the red seedheads dangling from the aspen trees (right) and the yellow and orange branches of the willow bushes, everything is still brown. So the sight of a mountain bluebird, an almost iridescent blue flashing across the brown soggy fields, is like a wake-up call on the wing, startling me out of my thoughts.
Wake up, it sings to me. Wake up and smell the pasqueflowers.