The Sublime Space

The week of the spring equinox is a time for weather turmoil, as the seasons struggle for identity. The sun is rapidly returning, the redwing blackbirds trilling—before the iconic robins—and narcissus shoots stretch after their winter’s nap. On this morning in Northern Michigan, eight inches of new snow rests on the ground, where just yesterday morning, white smudges of snow under the trees were all that remained of winter.

Some might consider early spring snow as an insult, dashing their hopes for a quick disposal of the cold. Yet, I find snowfall at this time of year to be a gift. Perhaps, it’s knowing that, unlike a blizzard in January, the strong March sun and inevitable spring rains will soon crush the snow into the soil. But to witness the residue of the snowfall on the next day, in the still air of early morning, is to witness a sublime space.

The ‘sticky snow’ of late spring gloms onto all matter, even vertical spaces such as tree trunks, window screens, and street signs. As the sun rises, the trees stretch long shadows across the milky ground, their tops dusted in white powder bursting against an azure sky, with no clouds to dampen their radiance. In this quiet space, chickadees verbally contend for territory, woodpeckers echo through the woods, and a robin tentatively chirps, wondering why it chose to end the winter pilgrimage so early.

Like a rainbow, the vision soon fades, as a second snowfall begins. Not sifting flakes from heavy clouds, but a wholesale eviction from trunk, limb, and branch. Soft boulders of snow tumble to the ground, much like flakes of plaster are scraped from a wall by a painter, intent on remodeling the landscape. I differ from those who are impatient for the riot of spring, who find this late winter scene to be unwanted. Within this dynamic season, there are hidden charms, such as sap flow in sugar maples, and early morning bird song. I know winter will soon leave, but for me, it is a departure of a comforting, if not at times demanding, friend.