The lilacs and apple blossoms are everywhere this spring. My lupine is taller than ever and wears her multiple blooms with defiance. Colorado has had a moist May and Mother Nature has rewarded us with lush growth. A few days ago, Rob and I went for a ride on our tandem and rode past marshy areas loud with frog song. Last year felt dry and lacking in color, though this could have been the result of Covid and our lost year.
Late May in Colorado this year is unusually lovely. Greens are especially vibrant before the inevitable drought and dry weather will bring a dull cast to the ground and dust to rise from the ground with each footstep.
But, this year? Is it just me or have you noticed the lilacs this year? Did they even bloom last year?
Today it is pouring rain and we had a morning thunder storm with lightning strikes just a mile or so away. I can almost feel the lupines, tomatoes and Jupiter’s Beard growing taller and spreading their roots in the ground below. I pretend I can feel their fingers reaching deeper and deeper into the dirt, and strengthening their hold on the earth.The lupines reach straight to the sky on this cloudy and wet day, their nod to the east and west which I have learned is phototropism, at rest.
My lupines are a miracle. Our backyard was leveled, and their habitat trampled as we prepared the space for my studio and new landscaping. This spring, they returned, first sprouting through the boards of my studio deck and then she shot straight up right in front of my new work place. Lupines have root systems that grow horizontally, so I understand how she might have held on, but what is miraculous to me is that she is stronger, more elegant, more full of blooms than ever before. She deserves to live for as long as she chooses. This spring she launches as if renewed, despite last year’s turmoil and I borrow her confidence on difficult days, sharing pictures of her on social media, astounded at her resilience, learning from her.
Nearby creeks and trails are flooded, erosion creating deep divots in the soil which will harden once the sun comes out and make for a bumpy ride on my gravel bike. I love the rain. I love drinking coffee and reading the New York Times by lamplight while outside nature revels in the moisture.
I spend the day snuggled in a corner and every now and then I pull out my camera, aim it out the window, and depress the shutter. Rain invigorates, gives me permission to do nothing and I rest, sinking into a day of no plans or need to go anywhere.
I cannot recall such a vibrant spring since I moved to Colorado. Mostly, when I look back on 2020, I feel my lungs constrict with forest fire smoke and remember my desire for baggy linen dresses, to avoid the dry heat. We once went for a ride on the motorcycle when the air quality was in dangerous territory, usually a signal for me to remain home, inside with the windows up. But we were feeling trapped, between the pandemic, the hordes of visitors to Colorado’s mountains, and then the fires burning seemingly everywhere. The sky was gold at sunset, colors that were lovely, but that also signaled the devastation of forest and homes to our west.
Now those charred hillsides sit with blackened stumps and shadows, nothing grows. Sometimes the slopes look as if someone took a smokey charcoal crayon to the portion that burned, and the foothills do not glow with the sun.
Last night we had friends over for drinks and pizza. Just saying, ‘we had friends over’ is something that should be celebrated, toasted, recognized. We hugged, sat near one another and were not reluctant to pick from the same bowl of chips.
We should pause at this. We had friends over.
Is it a different weather pattern or is it simply the matter of a storm passing that causes the horizon to sparkle with clarity and something that feels like joy? Is it just the ebbing of a darkness that we could not shake last year, something we could not see beyond, the grimness of reality leaving soot and muck on the edges of our sunny days?
I don’t think I am a good witness to remembering last spring. My visit to my daughter’s outside of Boston, and the time I spent with my granddaughter is one of my clearest, and brightest memories. Ellie and I walked in the cool spring mornings of a New England May, and I would show her the water and taught her to be gentle with flowers. She was just shy of one and a half last May and giggled while tossing the sand in her sandbox at me. I laughed. She transported me from the heavy dreariness of a pandemic to the joy in a moment.
Children do such things.
I cannot remember the lilacs, flooded creeks and culverts, the sound of frogs or the life outside my bedroom window that we experience these nights; the raccoons, coyotes, owls and foxes. I don’t believe such things existed last May.
And have you noticed the lilacs lately? Did you see my lupines? Oh my, yes, yes.