Tag Archives: spring

Arrested Movement

Every spring the runoff flows down a slight decline to fill the dugout. It was engineered that way about fifty years ago – a very simple sort of engineering,  but an alteration to the natural landscape so that the farm could have water for human and livestock.

So although the flow of the spring runoff past our trees (planted, not native, and thus another imposition on the natural landscape, but that’s another story) is man-made, it seems natural, and it works in tandem with nature’s natural ways. The water flows downhill and collects in a basin – in this case, a deep hole that was dug out of the earth – hence the name, dugout. Simple. Vital.

Runoff time is an exciting event in the year, when winter’s grip finally loosens and the pent up accumulation of a few months’ worth of precipitation with it. Some years the flow is too much, risking flooding the yard. Other years, when there’s not a lot of snow, the flow is minimal, just enough to fill the dugout. This year it’s about normal in my estimation.

Today was colder than the last few have been, and so the water that had started running froze up, its movement arrested. Like time standing still.

One of the reasons I even noticed this is because I’m out at the farm for the time-being, keeping my dad company and waiting out a pandemic. Normal work obligations and hustle bustle have ceased, as they have for much of the western world. Our movement has been arrested. Only what is essential continues to operate.

And because of it, I have the time to wander around the farm the way I did when I was a young girl, watching spring’s unfolding, noticing things, being present. Observing man-made engineering slow to a halt at Nature’s whim.

Running Water by Moonlight

March and April were miserable, but thankfully we got that snow, otherwise things would be looking pretty desperate around here in this thirsty land. The winds and heat of the past couple days made quick work of any standing water. I’ve been monitoring the runoff up at my place. The part of the road that the spring runs underneath was washed out just a few days ago, a puddle almost halfway up my calves just the other day. Then I had to leave for a couple days for work on the road – the drying days of wind and sun. So last night, with the nearly full moon high in the sky, I decided to drive up there to see what was what. With the bright moon and my headlights I could see, as I made my ponderous, bumping way up the rough track, that the deep puddles were completely dried up. But when I cut the engine and stepped out into the howling night, even above the wind I could hear the sweet, vitalising sound of the spring, still running.

Its modest, energetic course glistened in the moonlight as it ran down the hillside, burrowing deep into its own channel before being diverted by a man-made culvert under the road to spread itself into the hay meadow on the other side. The place where the grass is green and lush all summer long, even when the hills around have dried up to golden brown. At some point, probably fairly soon the way the weather is going, the spring will slow to a bare trickle. It will not run anymore, unless we get a good shot of rain. But it’s there, giving itself away by that profuse growth of grass. Giving life.

I held my hand to its silvery moonlit water. It flowed busily and coolly, indifferent to me. There’s many, many things I love about my place, the Sidehill, but of all of them, I think it’s the spring I love most.

Printemps (or, The Big Puddle)

“…And yet, down under the frozen crusts, at the roots of the trees, the secret of life was still safe, warm as the blood in one’s heart, and the spring would come again! Oh, it would come again!” – Willa Cather, O Pioneers!

There’s a different smell to the air, a sort of sharp scent that dares winter to linger much longer.

The geese who call this place home have come home. The geese who use this place as a rest stop on the way to their homes further north are camping out.

There is muck everywhere.

On the Ides of March, before the equinox but close enough, the first hesitant croaking of a frog. It was a bit premature, but I heard it.

Skunks are on the move.

A muskrat was swimming in a slough.

I saw a raccoon resting on a bale.

It’s still light out at 7:30 in the evening.

The Big Puddle has arrived.

Spring is coming. It’s almost here.

The surest harbinger of spring there is - the Big Puddle forms in a depression in our yard after the snow melts. As children, my sister and I went through an average of four pairs of rubber boots a day. That puddle was more exciting than 1000 Barbie dolls, held more possibilities for fun than Disneyland itself. It was ourspringtime  kingdom.  March 15, 2015.
The surest harbinger of spring there is, The Big Puddle forms in a depression in our yard every spring. As children, my sister and I went through an average of four pairs of rubber boots a day playing in the puddle. That puddle was more exciting than 1000 Barbie dolls, held more possibilities for fun than Disneyland itself. It was ou rspringtime kingdom.
March 15, 2015.