Notes From My Knapsack 3-17-16
Spring in our valley
With the fevers of the primary season past, the patient, the body politic, can now be assessed for any lasting illness or ongoing syndromes. Are we well and truly sick, or just dealing with a touch of the electoral influenza?
Any patient, on reaching a certain level of recovery, will hear that exercise is best for the limbs, the heart, the body as a whole. So the best response to these last few weeks of heated in-house online overly-obsessed scenario-chewing anxiety is to get outside, under a clear blue sky.
This being Ohio, it's more likely to be slate grey and drizzling, but no matter. Let's get out there and stroll. Saunter, even.
The vistas across the hills and valleys will soon be limited, in ways we can only appreciate when they're lost to us, like so many things. The slope of ground and slightly hidden structures are going to be covered over with a blanket of green, curtains and draperies of foliage that is what we're used to thinking of as normal even though it's really only true for six or seven months at most of our year.
The leaves return the distant viewscape to mere glimmers after dark, of where homes are seated on hilltops and across ravines. Even as they shroud, they soften, returning the curves of the earth to the spiky and irregular terrain of wintertime.
Peepers are singing out, snowdrops have blossomed, daffodils are stabbing their green spades up through the mulch into the sunlight, a sort of reverse excavation into the warmth of the air.
Buds are popping along the branches and limbs all around the trees over sidewalks and driveways, with infant leaves ready to poke through and unfurl. Some trees have long lost all their dried brown leaves from last year, and a few await the pressure of new growth to push them off the branch and onto the ground. Non-native grasses and long-established shrubs are shedding buff and grey debris as greenish-gold sprouts and shoots are pushing through.
I've started to see great blue herons slowly flap their way across my intersecting path below, their distinctive profiles lifting my heart obscurely. Do they settle down into a sort of hibernation through the cold months, stay active if largely invisible, or do they migrate? I should look that up. The buzzards are here year-round, with the pickings good on the blacktop; robins may over-winter but the last few I've seen seem to have arrived from the south, disgruntled with the cold when it surges back for a night or two. Crows have never gone anywhere, or so it seems to me. Sparrows are starting to show up in the spindly forsythia behind my house.
Bugs are appearing, in my home, on my windshield. Bees I am familiar with are humming insistently within their hives, and there are no doubt other such colonies (yellow jackets, hornets, wasps) vibrating into new life. Mosquitos and deerflies can take all the time they want.
And the numbers of runners, joggers, bicyclists, simple strolling fellow walkers: their tribe is on the increase. The paths and byways have been largely lonely for months, but now they're nearly what you could amusedly call crowded. But the crowding is not much, and the added population a sign of health. In those bodies, and in the body politic generally.
Let's stay active, outside, observing, and above all talking to each other. Even if it's just a hello on the bike path.
Jeff Gill is a writer, storyteller, and pastor in Licking County. Tell him about the spring sights you've seen at firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow @Knapsack on Twitter.