Dreaming of Spring

We are well into January and blazing toward February as I write this. Here in Tennessee, Winter has really just begun. We’ve had a couple of pretty dustings of snow, just enough to make us wish for a “big one” so we can get some use out of our long-neglected sled, but my affections are quickly turning toward Spring.

I ordered a seed catalog that should arrive any day now, and found myself saving egg cartons and dreaming of seed packets this past week. It’s still a bit early to start seedlings but the itch has begun.

Ducks moved into our ponds the other day, gliding gracefully across the ripples water and bringing life to the dormant winter-scape. Flocks of birds have danced overhead, noisily visiting the Shadow Wood and congregating on the front field as they peck away among the brown grasses that stopped growing months ago. I realized I need to refill my bird feeders. I’ll do that tomorrow.

The kittens have become cats and claimed our back porch furniture as their napping spot. When it gets below freezing they retire to the pool house garage via the doggie door where a brooding lamp beams down on their bed for warmth. I’ve spent some time in the shop, learning a few things about power tools and what not to do when building simple furniture…

but that will be a discussion for another day.

I’m ready for Spring.

I’m ready for the dormant to burst open green and flowers to hang heavy on their stems. I long for crepe myrtles and hydrangeas in full bloom along with daffodils and hyacinths scenting the air with their magic. I yearn for a basket full of tomatoes and peppers, green beans creeping up their trellis and okra sliced ready for roasting.

We are in that long, dull stretch of Winter that can feel depressing, the season in which we find ourselves seeking sunlight and dreaming of a beach vacation because our bodies are craving Vitamin D. But it won’t be long. Just a few weeks from now we will see the beginnings of the change and find ourselves emerging from the hearth to greet the sunny mornings barefoot amidst the birdsong that will soon fill the air.

It won’t be long, now.

Into the Woods

On New Years Day I finally ventured into the woods to explore beyond the old farm fence and find the creek.

In our garage I found a huge, heavy set of wire cutters…

…and set out to clear a path.

It didn’t take long to trek through the trail my father had cleared back in October. Winter has effectively cleared a lot of the underbrush and the English Ivy lies dormant and easy to step through until Spring. Within a few minutes I reached the old farm fence. One area has been bent low by a fallen tree, so I decided that would be the path of least resistance and began to cut the old wire.

As I worked through the wire (which ended up being more difficult to clear than I thought due to years of entangled vines and sections buried under decades of leaves twigs) I realized it was deeply embedded in the tree to which it had been nailed. In fact, in the photo below it is almost indistinguishable from the vines that surround it, but if you look closely you can see where it disappears beneath the scrubby roots of one of the vines.

After much wrestling and bending of stubborn fence-wire I finally emerged on the other side, looking back on the fallen tree over the fence for the very fist time.

I stepped carefully, remembering I was treading on ground that was once occupied by the Cherokee, a space that had been barred by that wire fence from grazing farm animals and (apart from an occasional visitor from the creek side) rarely touched by modern human feet. I was glad I was alone. The moment felt sacred.

Along the way I was mesmerized by the beauty of the Shadow Wood. Fallen trees and branches lay in an almost artistic cross-hatch of rugged design, textures beckoning me to draw closer and run my fingers along the rippled and ruffled edges of moss and lichens.

I knew I was drawing close to the creek. Through the maze of trees and underbrush, beyond a flock of birds high in the woods, I heard the distinct sound of running water. Another step, breaking a dry stick beneath my feet, and the sound startled the birds who went suddenly silent and bolted in a panic above my head. In the resulting silence my ear tuned in even more closely to the babbling sound that lay beyond and I followed it.

At last, I found it. Opening wide before me the creek bubbled and flowed. High from the recent rains, the water danced through the meandering path it had cut through the woods many, many years ago. Today it appeared more river-like in it’s rushing.

I explored the water’s edge for a few minutes, even capturing video footage so I could remember the sound. I breathed deeply the fresh air and praised the Maker of it all. How many hidden gifts lie in these woods? Along this creek?

And what magic will happen when it snows?