Monday, March 7, 2011
The forecast was for rain, as it is most days this time of year. We drove north anyway, willing to get a little wet to experience a new-to-us wildlife refuge, to have a late winter adventure in celebration of Walt's birthday, to get out and move.
We weren't long into the trip when sun patches began to dot the woolen sky like golden clouds. Soon we were driving into more blue than gray, and the farther north we went, the more glorious the day became. By the time we arrived at Nisqually NWR, the clouds were doing their best to hide the sun again, but the air was dry and at moments held the blessing of true warmth.
As we meandered along the boardwalk, enjoying the paired off honkers (and our own partnership), stopping to watch herons pull wriggling things from the fertile muck, and scanning the sky for eagles, I was aware of feeling simply happy. While Walt shot pictures, I searched the tangerine branches of willows for songbirds. We walked directly into the wind coming from the Puget Sound and were both chilled by it and energized. The primal scent of ocean and exposed tidal mud warmed just enough to release a deep salty tang broadcast the coming of new life as clearly as the birds clamoring in courtship all around us.
The longer we walked, the more alive I felt. More than I've felt in months. A true March day, the weather shifted wildly and without warning: sun extinguished by black clouds that spit rain which gave way to a downy gray sky that cleared into forever blue, all within a matter of minutes. Often the sky would hold so many different weathers, rain fell magically from a cloudless cathedral ceiling.
It was in the shifting I recognized what I love about this month. It's not only the promise of new life that has grown from whisper to shout; it's also the constant surprise. After a winter in which I worried nothing would ever change, the adolescent mood swings of March are exciting and full of unknowns that promise at least new perspective and perhaps even the next great insight. Everything is possible all at once.
When we drove home later in the afternoon, the weather continued to offer opposites side by side: apocalyptic black clouds trying to devour Easter blue skies. For miles we were surrounded by rainbows: a brilliant double that followed us for a time; a half arc flashing neon from behind; pastel chalk smudges of pillars nestled in hillsides.
March is the time when darkness and light exist side by side in a way that doesn't happen at any other time of year so vividly. Color, breath, and hope are all sharpened by the unique and particular configuration of life and death sharing equal space. Because this month's gifts are offered full blast, feral, and raw they have the power to change a heart with all the impact of falling in love.
Photo by Walt