Friday, April 12, 2013

What I Am Longing For

It's simple. What I am longing for is spring. I mean real  spring which is not what we have here in the mountains of north central New Mexico.

What we have here is wind -- a sort of atmospheric temper tantrum on the part of an enraged earth spirit. We have brown -- lots of that --interspersed with the dull green of a desicated Christmas tree. Oh come, come, you will say, there are flowers if you look carefully, and, yes, there are but not the ones that belong here. The flowers that belong here will arrive after the monsoon season in mid-July.

In addition to wind, we have out here what I call tease clouds. These are brooding cumulus masses that are supposed to deliver rain or snow but, after raising every one's hopes, simply move on. Sometimes there are a few flakes, half a dozen plump drops of rain staining the sidewalks. I worry aloud about future forest fires and am told, "Well, really, when you think about it, what's left to burn?" Still, I leave my car windows open as an invitation to the rain gods, hoping they will take the bait. In the meantime...

I saunter nostalgically down memory lane summoning the image of  acacias bursting with fluffy, bright yellow bloom which (admittedly) leave half the population of Marin County, California watery-eyed and sneezing. These are followed, in February, by flowering fruit trees -- a veritable pastel explosion. But the latter, though impressive, isn't what I miss the most. What I miss the most are dazzling green fields smeared with mustard flower, brazen orange poppies interspersed with purple meadow lupine, mission bells, shooting stars, wild radish, blue-eyed grass, baby blue eyes, ceanothus, buttercups, trillium, Douglas Iris...

You see, spring, to my way of thinking, should not tiptoe in with a tulip here, a daffodil there, a scrawny spray of forsythia. No, spring should erupt with color, explode with beauty and variety. Spring
 should astonish, dazzle, overwhelm.

This verdant  and kaleidoscopic  panorama is, of course, the product of coastal California's rainy season -- soft, persistent drizzles that last for days and sometimes continue into May and early June. I can't believe I used to grumble in soggy-spirited annoyance while navigating around puddles and scraping mud from my shoes.

 " Don't it always seem to go/That you don't know what you've got til it's gone."

  In April, if you stand on a high cliff by the Pacific Ocean, you will see the hills below you covered with magenta ice plant. You will breathe in the rich sea-level air, heavy with moisture, and hear the hiss of churning waves raking pebbles and collapsing against white sand.  If you listen carefully,you can hear the bark of seals from a distant rock harshly punctuated by the nearby scream of gulls.

Shortly after I wrote this, a quantity of precipitation arrived, here in remotest New Mexico, in the form of rain, hail and then snow,enough to weigh down whatever is struggling to bloom in this meteorologically eccentric part of the world.


  1. I totally agree. While there are definitely 4 seasons here, in contrast to the 2 that I am used to having in Houston, Spring and Fall are too short. Winter and Summer like to linger here, way past the time we feel they should be here. And we humans just long for the in-between times, when flowers grow and leaves turn colors.

  2. I see your point, but I find that there is some beauty to be had in the subtlety of warming soil and perennials emerging from the mulch and blooming plums and cast-off winter coats. It's hard, when love of California is still fixed hard in your mind. I remember. :)

  3. Yeah, New Mexico is brown...until the Aspens turn everything around.

  4. True. Everything after the monsoon season is quite colorful until winter sets in. The aspens and cottonwoods are beautiful.

  5. Yes, I am definitely ready for Spring, even Summer. The wind makes me anxious to the point of having panic attacks. I've been planning my garden for months and am itching to get out there and play in the dirt. Spring/Summer can't get here soon enough.