Thursday, March 3, 2011

Ready for Spring

Even days after the ice storm last week, the trees were beyond description, still covered in ice:

In the park, looking south
The ice is gone from the trees now, but sidewalks and driveways, and some roads, are still covered with packed snow, the top surface melted and refrozen into slick ice. Walking the dogs is fraught with challenge; it's all I can do to stay upright. (The dogs, with twice as many legs and feet, seem to be at an advantage.)

Today, when we walked, the temperature was 34 degrees. Last week, 34 degrees was warm, but today, with a March wind, it seemed bitterly cold.

Today, finally, I have to admit: I am tired of the ice and cold. I am Ready For Spring - a sentiment recorded nicely in this poem:

Ready for a Change
by Elizabeth Talmage

I am ready for a change of seasons.
This autumn
with its brilliant testimony
of summer’s end,
this winter
with its harvest of ice and frost—
they are wearing me down.
I am tired of these seasons
of watching and waiting.
I am ready for some days of beginning.
Bring on spring.
The dogs, on the other hand, don't seem to mind the weather. I do think Tonks is happy when we find dry pavement to walk on, and neither dog seems to find much use in the wind.

They their walk around lunchtime (Bonnie must have explained this to Tonks), and they race around each other in circles when they see me getting ready to head out. When we get home, they nap together.
Bonnie & Tonks

Here are some bonus photos of trees, after the ice storm.
Now that the snow and ice have
melted, these branches are again
high enough to clear the car

Close-up of the pine tree

Amazingly, the oak tree didn't lose
any branches
Below are more photos of birch trees in the park. They call to mind Robert Frost's poem, Birches:
When I see birches bend to left and right
Across the line of straighter darker trees,
I like to think some boy's been swinging them.
But swinging doesn't bend them down to stay.
Ice-storms do that. Often you must have seen them
Loaded with ice a sunny winter morning
After a rain. They click upon themselves
As the breeze rises, and turn many-colored
As the stir cracks and crazes their enamel.
Soon the sun's warmth makes them shed crystal shells
Shattering and avalanching on the snow-crust—
Such heaps of broken glass to sweep away
You'd think the inner dome of heaven had fallen.
They are dragged to the withered bracken by the load,
And they seem not to break; though once they are bowed
So low for long, they never right themselves:
You may see their trunks arching in the woods
Years afterwards, trailing their leaves on the ground
Like girls on hands and knees that throw their hair
Before them over their heads to dry in the sun.
But I was going to say when Truth broke in
With all her matter-of-fact about the ice-storm
(Now am I free to be poetical?)
I should prefer to have some boy bend them
As he went out and in to fetch the cows—
Some boy too far from town to learn baseball,
Whose only play was what he found himself,
Summer or winter, and could play alone.
One by one he subdued his father's trees
By riding them down over and over again
Until he took the stiffness out of them,
And not one but hung limp, not one was left
For him to conquer. He learned all there was
To learn about not launching out too soon
And so not carrying the tree away
Clear to the ground. He always kept his poise
To the top branches, climbing carefully
With the same pains you use to fill a cup
Up to the brim, and even above the brim.
Then he flung outward, feet first, with a swish,
Kicking his way down through the air to the ground.

So was I once myself a swinger of birches;
And so I dream of going back to be.
It's when I'm weary of considerations,
And life is too much like a pathless wood
Where your face burns and tickles with the cobwebs
Broken across it, and one eye is weeping
From a twig's having lashed across it open.
I'd like to get away from earth awhile
And then come back to it and begin over.
May no fate wilfully misunderstand me
And half grant what I wish and snatch me away
Not to return. Earth's the right place for love:
I don't know where it's likely to go better.
I'd like to go by climbing a birch tree,
And climb black branches up a snow-white trunk
Toward heaven, till the tree could bear no more,
But dipped its top and set me down again.
That would be good both going and coming back.
One could do worse than be a swinger of birches.

Only time will tell if these birches will stand tall again.


  1. Paul, me too. His description of the ice-laden trees is right on the mark. And then there are so many other wonderful lines - e.g.

    Earth's the right place for love:
    I don't know where it's likely to go better.

  2. When I was a high school student and early English major in college, I got so sick of Frost. I decided that I didn't like his poems. "Birches" is the poem that brought me back before I graduated. It is funny because I always have to remind myself that I like Frost again. Your pictures are perfect! Thank you for posting pictures and poem together.