Saturday, February 28, 2009

The True Herald of Spring

He was the legendary harbinger of Springtime. everything a Robin should be, sitting fat and cocky atop my back garden gate, fully aware of his beauty as he turned his perfect head this way and that as if to give God Himself the opportunity to appreciate him in his best light. Impressive, yes.... a handsome creature to be sure, but alas, he could tell me nothing.

I look up, up and notice how the ancient oaks and poplars now appear pale-green, dandelion-fuzzy in the penthouse levels of their skyscraper dizziness. I have seen the smiling saffron faces of the daffodils as they wave to me each morning when I tie back the lace curtains over the windowseat. I have even spied a bunny in the moonlight. But delightful as they are, and try as they might, they have no real news to give.

The Arthur Rackham calendar on my office wall quite confidently declares that Spring will arrive during the month that begins tomorrow, but it is laughable to believe it. For the seasons pay no heed to the calendars of men; give no credence to his schedules or his expectations. They run a celestial relay all their own, handing over armloads of lovely hours to their successors when they alone decide the time is right. It is pure folly to think it will be on the same day each year.

One must watch carefully, must always pay attention, for the true herald of Spring is found in neither flora nor fauna but rather in a certain ephemeral, almost invisible, quality of light. It can appear on the coldest hour of a March afternoon, or as late as an April dawn, but if one is watching closely, one will see. The sharpness of the clean winter light will have melted round the edges, become more watery somehow, more suitable for the quiet illumination of a rose. Then and only then will Spring be here.

I once returned in April from a ten day trip out of the country. As I sat down my bags and walked into the kitchen, I could see it clearly. The light had changed. It was a languid light now that floated through the house like an etude, no longer the crisp light of Winter that had pierced my windowpanes just the week before. Spring had arrived and I had missed it. I resolved to never let that happen again.
So, I am watching.
Are you?

A Light exists in spring
Not present on the year
At any other period.
When March is scarcely here

A color stands abroad
On solitary hills
That silence cannot overtake,
But human nature feels.

It waits upon the lawn;
It shows the furthest tree
Upon the furthest slope we know;
It almost speaks to me.

Then, as horizons step,
Or noons report away,
Without the formula of sound,
It passes, and we stay:

A quality of loss
Affecting our content,
As trade had suddenly encroached
Upon a sacrament.

Emily Dickinson

Painting: Spring, 1913
by Eric Harald Macbeth Robertson


  1. Oh the advent of Spring. It does the heart good. We walk with a little lift to our step, and a son in our heart!
    And what a beautiful poem, thank you.

  2. ...waiting and watching...

    Nice post.


  3. God, I love reading your posts!!!! This is JUST so new and refreshing! I love Spring and renewal ... and Lent and....

  4. Beautiful! I also love that Emily Dickinson poem.

  5. The cat and I are on paws and tip toes awaiting the coming of Spring!

    Delightful post!

  6. Ah Pamerla, not only in the change in the light but also in that certain something you can smell in the air. Some ten days ago I smelled a certain crispness in the air and knew that autumn was at last on its way. I always feel that spring in nigh when for just a moment or hour, there is a certain balminess in the air, a whiff of tropic isleas and dreams...

  7. There's no scent of spring here in Toronto: only frigid temperatures and blustery winds. If March begins cold and blowy, then near the end should be sunny and warm days. I have hope, and your post promises it.

  8. It's started here. I was ill in bed for it so hurried around with the camera as soon as I could. To me real Spring is the purples of crocuses telling me that things are afoot and that I'd better hold of for the exciting ride of the riots of colour where everything will joyfully burst out of the soil so happy to be alive. My camera is ready. It's been a long Winter.

  9. When I stepped outside Monday, the geese were flying north. As true harbinger of spring as the robin.

  10. Your words touch. It is a welcomed sight to see how the light changes and flows throughout the home as spring approaches.

  11. so very true its in the quality of light, also in the air too, a subtle scent

  12. I see we are both waiting and ever watchful....

  13. "but rather in a certain ephemeral, almost invisible, quality of light."

    So true. Also, a certain softness in the air....

  14. Ah spring I can hardly wait.
    Love Jeanne

    Your words and postings enchant me

  15. The sunsets in Anchorage are just glorious! Fiery and vivid....apricots, peaches, purples, golds.. a spectacular show from Mother Nature and a harbinger of warmer weather... Happy March!!!

  16. Winter and spring are playing hide and seek here in the northwest. I am waiting for winter to hide for longer and longer periods and for spring sun to usher in the daffodils. . .

  17. I am enjoying the scent of our jasmine this evening.
    That is my first hint of the coming of Spring.
    I tried to e-mail you to thank you for your comments on my blog, but my e-mails keep bouncing back to me.
    You gave me quite the laugh when you wrote about Edward. I don't think you look alike, but I do think your beauty and his handsomeness compliment each other!


  18. While you move ever so slowly toward spring we are slipping into the end of summer and the days are shortening. We have to leave 1/2 hour earlier on our paddle now to be home by dark. The sun is moving further and further to the north to set and my early morning bird chorus is now about 5am instead of an ungodly 4.30. Some good and some bad in the change of seasons!!!

  19. Ahhhh..... I am *so* ready for spring.

  20. How beautifully you write Pamela. I, too am watching the daffodils bob their heads through my window as I type. Sadly it has gone cold, wet and windy today, not so spring-like.

  21. I'm waiting and watching too! I just discovered this recently by taking pictures how fast the daylight and sunsets change. I apprecite the beauty but never gave it a thought on how fast it changes. Thank you! xoxo

  22. how beautiful is that painting, wow! :)

  23. the best part of spring is the surprise of summer.


  24. Fabulous post. The light is definately very much winter here today but I'll be watching hopefully, again tomorrow.

  25. OPne gets a lot for one's money on your blog. Maybe it's the spring, but I think not: I always leave refreshed after a visit.

  26. Tis the season of renewal; of waiting and watching...

  27. We are so fortunate to be able to experience spring.Your description is so very eloquent.

  28. I don't see spring coming yet, but I believe . . . .

    (Pamela, dig this: my captcha is "changes"!)

  29. "The sharpness of the clean winter light will have melted round the edges, become more watery somehow, more suitable for the quiet illumination of a rose. Then and only then will Spring be here."

    Your words stand well with Dickinson! Yes, it is the light. I'll think of your observation while looking out at all the snow. Spring will come sooner if I pace the light instead of the blooms. You also reminds me of how beautiful winter light is too. Well said!

  30. I'm waiting with you:) You capture the very essence of the change of the seasons with your wonderful words.

  31. Hello P&E,

    Such a beautiful picture and poem. Sadly, we are supposed to get more snowy flourishes here in Scotland! So Spring still has a fight on her hands!

  32. Spring sprang here, took one look, and buried itself back down deep. The snowdrops are having a go though, but the light is still grey and grumpy.

  33. It's true, though I'm never quite sure how much it's in the light and how much in the blood that just knows a corner has been turned.

    I wouldn't mind a bit more warm sunshine to confirm it all the same!

    I love that picture, and the poem. She knew all about light and the seasons didn't she?

  34. Anticipation! Can't come fast enough...Betty

  35. Your words, Pamela, remind me of an artist at work on a watercolour itself. I also love the Emily Dickinson selection. The last two lines make me think of Jesus overturning the tables of the merchants outside the temple.


  36. The painting and poem are wonderful.Good choice of poem by Emily Dickinson.Enjoyed this very much Pamela. Thanks for stopping by.

  37. The opposite of

    A certain slant of light
    On winter afternoons



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