Suddenly it's spring and the squirrels are strutting
I decided to rummage around in my drawer and pull on a warm pair of equinox sox and go out to see how spring is doing.The thing about spring — even for those of us who cheat winter here by evacuating — is that spring really does spring in the Northwest.
Spring is an active verb. One minute it's kind of gray out there and overnight it's green. One day it is bleak winter, and the next day you see a squirrel coming down the driveway looking so buff and robust that you know he spent the winter working out at the gym.
"Have a tough winter, fella?" you ask, rhetorically, and the squirrel will sneer at you, flex his biceps and demand peanuts in a tone most threatening.
Squirrels aren't as fuzzy or cute as we like to think. They watch reruns of "The Sopranos" at night and are all members of the mob.
Then there are the hummingbirds that never left this year. That necessitated several trips out on icy mornings to thaw their sugar water in the feeder lest the tiny, feathered balls of metabolism freeze and plummet out of the sky.
Of course if that happened much, we'd be kicking dead hummingbirds off the walk all winter, and how often do you see that?
If the squirrels are members of the mob, then hummingbirds are the leaders of the pity party. How many of you patsies left a trouble light burning all winter to warm imprudent hummingbirds who were too bone lazy to fly South?
We have camellia blossoms that always get the jump on spring. Lavish Geritol pink and the size of salad plates, they bloom too quick and too heavy and fall splat in the driveway like so much garish road kill.
The wild cherry trees send drifts of snowy blossoms to ground at every gust of wind.
"Yikes, snow," you say, shivering in your equinox sox, and then you sniff the air and say, "No, flower petals."
The biggest surprise of early spring, I think, are magnolias. A magnolia is the ugly duckling of bushes, plain and bare branched, until it bursts into bloom in the same way a floozy pops out of the top of the cake wearing pasties and a pink feather boa and bellowing a torch song. For sheer surprise, the magnolia wins hands down.
I like those improbable pink/lavender/periwinkle/purple azaleas that bloom early and then sit smugly, like huge Easter eggs, against the dark garden.
And the first new coppery leaves of maple trees with their greenish blossoms that flop onto the ground in the first wind. The maples begin gleefully dumping stuff on us in spring and don't quit until fall when the last leaf, big enough to serve a steak on, lands at your feet.
I notice that there can never be too many daffodils. I wish tulips had the structural strength of daffodils. But tulips are the wusses of the bulb world, flopping over in a dead faint at any bit of breeze or splat of rain.
But a daffodil, now, a daffodil will take a beating and still come up bobbing and feinting and screaming yellow.
Spring is when we plant lovers are at our most gullible. We are heady with the notion that this stuff just grows by itself.
We wander into the garden shops where some slick-talking plant person — oh, these folks should really work for car dealers — steers us to the latest, hottest new plant model, $5.99 for a tuft of leaves in a 3-inch box.
"Spring?" says the plant guru. "It's too late to plant for spring." But I am putty in her dirty hands and never leave without a cardboard flat filled with summer dreams.
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