Pulling Back the Covers

back yard with red picnic table buried in snow
The picnic table was a great snow gauge

According to my camera, we spent February under a snow blanket. Plush and sturdy for weeks, high thread count, frequently refreshed. Now threadbare.

I’m glad for the gradual melt. The jagged icicle curtain hanging from the gutters fell piece by piece, thunderous but not terrifying. The apple tree below sustained minimal damage.

I’ve been thinking about the joyous thaw towards the end of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. As a kid, I didn’t catch that the story was a Christian allegory. Seasons have always been my religion anyway.

Chicago’s winter-spring (winting? springter?) tends to offer a good test of faith. I have learned to squint for the signs, the reassurances, of warm and lush days ahead. This is the time of year I start scrabbling around the musty leaves left over from fall in search of nodding snowdrops, crocus tips and the knuckles of hellebores.

close up of yellow crocuses and white snowdrops surrounded by dead leaves
From another year, around this time.

Until the first big snow, this winter had been dry and mild. By early January, green tips were starting to dot the sunny spots out back. Too early, even by our seasonal tug-of-war standards. As the snow level rose this month, slowly overtaking our picnic table, I pictured the bulbs being tucked back in. Snug and warm and waiting.

blurry photo of a green shoot emerging from wood chips
Spotted in early January

I’m grateful for the slow melt dripping into the soil instead of running off in a fury to the sewers. Peeling the cover back slowly gives our eyes a chance to adjust.

If you are eager for spring, it’s not too early to look down. Once you find one green blade, more will appear. The muds of March will feel less dreary.

photo of snow and woodchips with small leaves emerging from woodchips
Wild (I think) columbine uncovered yesterday

If you want to remember where and when to look next year, take a picture. It might not be gallery worthy. I have yet to master zooming in on a half inch nub while avoiding my phone’s shadow. But I never regret seeing these blurry artifacts from years past. They give me faith that spring will come.

photo of red tulip leaves just emerging--they look like a baby bird's beak
And if you take enough, you are bound to capture something special. I call this Hungry Baby Tulip Beak.

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