Spring generally announces its arrival with the bright colors of tulips, crocus, and daffodils, and the greening of grass and trees leafing out.  And yet I’ve found a much softer and more delicate side to the season just out my front window.  We have a lovely magnolia tree that bursts forth into blossoms near the middle of April.  It’s bloom is much anticipated.  And unfortunately its bloom is also short-lived, with the flower petals giving way to the wind or rain, and quickly to the green leaves that burst forth afterward.  But as it becomes awash in white flowers it becomes magnificent.  The petals are thin and delicate with a soft tinge of pink.  To me it signals the whisper and call of a softer side to spring.

Yesterday I drove south from the Twin Cities with a photographer friend in search of pasque flowers.  The weather was unusually warm, the sunshine was bright, and it was good to catch up with my friend.  We arrived at this gravel prairie area and were at first disappointed thinking the flowers were not in bloom yet.  But as we looked more closely we could see peeks of flowers amidst the dry prairie grasses.  The pasque flowers are only three to four inches tall, so they can easily hide.  They start out as little fuzz balls (of which we saw many) and gradually open their petals to the warmth of the sun.  Although there will be a larger and showier display with more flowers blooming in the days ahead, it was a delightful evening and a reminder of all the good things that come with spring.

springs-thaw-on-the-mississippi-river_cp1965c_staatsWith our spring thaw in full force, I wandered along the banks of the Mississippi River yesterday.  Where normally the river is ice-covered, there was only a thin layer of ice that lined the shoreline.  The wind was brisk causing the clouds to hurry quickly across the sky.  Fishermen were active on the river, launching boats and heading out to their favorite areas with nary a thought of ice.  The scene was more like one from early April, but we’ll embrace and welcome spring at any time it makes its appearance.

mud-drive-results_cp1759-staatsYesterday we left the Twin Cities before dawn and drove north 150 miles.  The sun came out on a record-setting warm day with temperatures in the 50’s.  The areas north still have snow covering the ground, and the lakes are frozen enough for trucks and fishermen to be enjoying cutting holes in the ice and finding fish below.  Even the snowmobilers were running across the lakes and land too.  Early in the morning the unpaved roads were frozen, but as the day progressed they became mud and clay with ruts throughout.  There was no way to avoid them so we continued and had a wonderful time enjoying the countryside, the lakes, and the activities, stopping once to clear off the back window of the car.  By the time we returned home my car was hardly recognizable.  All that mud and clay seemed to have adhered to the car and dried in place.  An extensive trip to the car wash was needed this morning, but I’ve kept the memories of an unusual spring day in February.