Willows and Rain

The delicacy of spring’s regrowth ~ San Bernard Wildlife Refuge
(click image to enlarge)


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 science 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


Comments always are welcome.

38 thoughts on “Willows and Rain

  1. The greening of the trees, the return of the vultures, the first hummingbirds moving through, the first bluebonnets in bloom…all present and all fulfilling the promise of the return of Spring…thank you Emily for the reminder of Spring’s fleeting nature.

    1. She did have a way with words, didn’t she? I like to think of her out in her garden and the fields, plucking flowers for her herbarium sheets — all the while developing the sensitivities that shine in her verse.

  2. The photo and poem are a very nice pairing – – I didn’t know that poem before, it’s nice, and I appreciate Dickinson’s unexpected conclusion.
    Here in the northeast, winter is marching on. The spring light that exists here is mostly from the headlights on the snowplows.

    1. I almost used e.e. cummings’s “Spring is a perhaps hand,” but maybe I’ll save that one in case we get whalloped with a last dose of cold, stormy weather before spring fully sets in. I did think the structure of Dickinson’s poem suited the clean lines of the landscape.

      I just had another peek at your forecast; you have my sympathy. At least it only says rain and snow, and no ice. That’s something to be thankful for. I’m sure the snowplow drivers will be pleased to have the rain helping them get rid of the snow — unless it starts to flood.

    1. Isn’t it wonderful? There are so many shades of green, it’s almost impossible to count them all. The trees are starting to bloom now, too, and the fragrance is just wonderful. I hope we don’t make a turn into summer for a while.

  3. I long for the spring greens to begin — not till April, I fear. That pale, chartreuse that’s like being wrapped in a mist. Willows “do it” so well. Perfect words, too.

    1. But it’s March now, so next month is April. Patience, Grasshopper! Honestly, things are moving so quickly I’m nearly breathless with it all. I came around a corner tonight and found myself on a street lined with white-blooming trees: probably Bradford pear. There are orange trees and bridal wreath blooming, and the fragrance is wonderful. I wish I could bottle it.

    1. It was so pretty that day. A fine mist was in the air, and the skies were leaden, but the trees seemed to shine in spite of it all. It reminded me of the Robert Frost poem:

      Nature’s first green is gold,
      Her hardest hue to hold.
      Her early leaf’s a flower;
      But only so an hour…”

      No matter. While it’s here, we can enjoy it.

    1. Isn’t it fun to think of nature enjoying these transitions? It’s been clear during our recent strong winds that some of the birds were playing in the currents. I can’t think of any good reason not to imagine plants basking in the sunshine and warmth.

      For whatever reason, the season seems to be unfolding especially quickly this year. It’s almost like watching time-lapse photography.

  4. I just drove through the California foothills of my youth, yesterday, Linda. And it is a drive I always love in spring because the hills have turned a beautiful green. It will hang in there until May, to be replaced by the brown of summer (which also has it’s beauty) the green and golden of California. –Curt

    1. It’s strange that when I think of the hills north of the Bay area, I always think of those golden grasses, and never the green. I don’t even remember a flush of green. Of course, I wasn’t much interested in nature then, except in the most casual way. It took a redwood forest or vineyard to get my attention, although I did appreciate the hills, the eucalyptus, and so on.

      The same day I saw these trees, I passed an enormous, to-the-horizon field of bright yellow. I don’t know what the flowers were, but I intend to get back there and check it. With luck, there will be blue skies.

      1. Mustard, perhaps?
        Right now, I am pretty sure you would notice the green. The brown lasts longer but I think it is equally beautiful. I miss it when I travel east and everything is green. (Not in Texas, However.)

  5. Looks like spring has sprung. I love driving around town, first to see the pattern of bare branches up and down streets, then suddenly without warning, the burgeoning spark of green. Nothing showing in my garden as yet though.

    1. It does happen suddenly, doesn’t it? Our residential streets are lovely now, with redbuds, tulip trees, and Bradford pears in bloom. Even one of our nastiest invasives, trifoliate orange, is covered in blossoms, and the bees are ecstatic. We had a bit of hail night before last, and now the crepe myrtles that still had seed pods lingering, don’t. They’re mostly on the ground. No matter — the goldfinches who adore the seeds have flown away, and the season’s ready to turn.

  6. Ah, Emily certainly had a way with words, didn’t she? Lovely photo, Linda. So wonderful seeing things green up (and it’s high time, too!)

    1. I keep bumping into new Dickinson poems that appeal. I read one she wrote this morning about grass, and it was just as lovely. I’ll confess that she wrote some things I can’t make heads or tails of, but that may be my lack as much as hers. On the other hand, I’ve had the idea from time to time that she just didn’t get around to revising a few poems.

      When it comes to spring’s green, the difference between “none” and “some” is considerable!

  7. Stunning image, great impact with its simplicity. Love the poem. However I feel in Oz our spring is different. Perhaps this is more like our Autumn, my favourite time.

    1. There just was so much to love, I didn’t even care that the sky was gray, the mist falling, and the colors dimmed a bit. I especially like the way the grasses regrowing after the prescribed burn recapitulate the colors of the trees. In a short time, it all will have changed — this single scene in every season would be fun to photograph.

      What about this seems autumn-like to you? I know so little of your seasons, it’s hard for me to imagine.

    1. That’s a favorite poem, and one of the few I know that contains lines especially appealing to a varnisher:

      La higuera frota su viento
      con la lija de sus ramas…

  8. That’s a beautiful photo – I really like the abstract quality, and those spring greens, delicious! We’re not at that stage yet, nowhere near, yet some cherry trees are blooming, and the daffodils, and things are pushing out of the ground. It stays cool here, so it’s slow, which I like, but I imagine in your area, there’s the benefit of that overpowering impact, when you’re steeped in spring.

    1. One thing I’ve learned is that sometimes it’s worth giving it a try, even when conditions aren’t what I’ve generally considered optimal. Gray skies and mist? What a wonder that some things can shine, even in the midst of the mist. This is one of those places that will be fun to photograph multiple times, to record the changes. I’m not sure I can get closer, but it might be possible from the other side; I think the trees are along an irrigation canal, since the line is so straight.

      Two weeks ago, I found lyre-leaf sage rosettes every place I visited. Yesterday, I saw one blooming beneath a stop sign, with a bloom stalk well over a foot tall. I’d better go check those rosettes.

      1. I like this distance because it keeps everything simplified and a little abstracted, and I bet the seasonal changes will be wonderful to see from here. I hope you’re able to keep going back frequently. My father was a chemist, a scientist through and through, but he appreciated nature deeply (even after growing up poor in Brooklyn). When we lived in upstate New York, he photographed the same scene in our backyard (a row of lilacs, a gravel driveway, a big spruce) every – I think it was every two weeks. For a year. It made a big impression on me, that he did that.
        (I bet those sage plants are seriously on the move!).

        1. I had a friend who photographed the same view from her back door for an entire year — every day. She said the tedium got to her at times, but once the rhythm was set, more and more people stopped by every day to see what had changed. That’s how she discovered that someone had stolen her wheelbarrow!

    1. Once you described it as an artistic technique, I could see this simplified more, in just that way. I love the trees at this stage, where it’s still possible to see through them, as well as to see that hint of growth.

    1. The delicacy of spring growth and the open structure of Dickinson’s poetry seem perfectly suited. Her words hang on the page like new leaves on a tree. They obviously belong together, but their arrangement can seem a bit random!

  9. the orderly geometric lines of that image, and its colors, would be a good image for beginning or advanced watercolorists… can you look at it through squinted eyes and figure out the steps one would take to paint it? i think that a beginning student would be pleased with the results, and that is important to want to continue!

    1. Oh, I hope I catch you before you “go silent” again! I loved your take on the photo, and can certainly understand how you’d see it with your painter’s eye. Do I know which steps should be taken to paint it? I’m certain of the first three: obtain paper, paints, and water. Oh — and a brush! Beyond that, I’d be at a loss, but it would be fun to try.

      1. I am back online because I realized that the next two days ‘in town’ will be a bit busy.. thursday and friday are the holiest days of ‘semanta santa.’ I’ll right-click/download your image and will work on a tutorial… it will be fun – I think – and if it’s ok, I’ll post it as a timeout for art next week….
        Personally i’m working on a final study to enter as one of ten in a competition, with the deadline on monday. I don’t like waiting til the last day, but circumstances (like the felling of a few trees and making boards on site very near the house — ah, the sound was horrid!) and that final trip to the cloud forest – keys now back in the hands of the owner!

        Thanks for that nudge, though you didn’t mean it as a nudge, but none-the-less, my creative mind leaped at that op to break it down into those ‘easy’ steps!

        happy easter, dear lady!

        1. I hope you do have fun with it. It’s really a nice image of a beautiful spot, and it makes me happy that it gave you some inspiration. I’ll be interested to see what you do with it — or not, if something more interesting comes along!

          Good luck on finishing up your entry for the competition. Perhaps the delay will be good. I sometimes find that allowing things to simmer for a while can be beneficial.

          Happy Easter to you, too. Tomorrow will be the day to avoid the area around our fish markets, as the crowds will be phenomenal. The weather here is splendid, and will be through the weekend. I’m so glad — all of those egg hunts can go off without complication!

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