SPRING HAS ARRIVED with the rush of a barreling Piccadilly Line train crammed to the exit doors with Marmite-breathing riders eager to reach Cockfosters. If you’re still stuck in a winter mindset, do Mind the Gap.
Apologies for the London fixation. Perhaps I’ve been immersed in too many Bertie Wooster stories, our favorite read-alouds as of late in our cabin refuge. (I pride myself a bit on my Jeeves characterization.) That, and I have travel on my mind, as we’ve been receiving missives from (fully vaccinated) Maui-visiting friends who accused me of being “analog” when I requested postcards. (Note that mail takes a full week to get here from Hawaii now, thanks to Postaldisaster General Louis DeJoy.)
But the here and now has its up sides. Returning to the San Juans a few days ago from the Seattle area, where I got my final COVID vaccination while daughter Lillian stayed with Barbara, I enjoyed the full whammy of spring-has-sprung treats as I crossed the Skagit Valley.
First, there was Fir Island’s blizzard of snow geese whirling overhead. Touching down in farm fields for a last bit of fattening up before winging it back north to Alaska and Siberia, they honked up a cacophony reminiscent of a Friday-night rush hour in Manhattan.
Then came my first-of-the-season stop at the Snow Goose Produce stand, self-proclaimed home of Immodest Ice Cream Cones. There I bought a pot of genuine Skagit Valley tulips, ready to pop into bloom in a couple weeks. They’re parrot tulips, Barbara’s favorite, in a striking purple, according to the tag.
Wending my way along the Best Road, next came astonishing carpets of blooming daffodils, farmed for their bulbs, splashing yellow like spilled paint across the valley floor.
Back home at Center Island yesterday, Barbara and I stepped out on the deck to take in the seasonal wonders, from rain-washed fresh air to spring bird calls.
Ravens are among our March visitors, croaking and gronking from the treetops, and at times producing a surprising, loud clicking noise not unlike those ratcheted noisemakers New Year’s revelers twirl in their hands.
We also have woodpeckers galore this spring — the small Downys, the big Hairys, and twice at our feeder in recent days a Northern Flicker the size of a small chicken and nattily fitted out in what resembled a handsome gray morning coat and speckled cummerbund. From somewhere on our rocky knoll yesterday we heard a woodpecker’s rapid-fire drumming — the mating-season pneumatic hammering meant to show off to other woodpeckers, not the slow, pecking-for-lunch thump common year-round.
We smiled to each other as we heard the same staccato drumming again and again. It conjured a picture of a geeky teenage woodpecker looking for love, shouting out the avian version of Rod Stewart’s “If you want my body and you think I’m sexy” song.
It’s a time of renewal, a season to savor.