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Janet Sheridan: Six Snapshots of Spring

Looking for spring: Though the grass lacked gumption and trees doubted the season, Joel and I wandered our April yard making plans for new additions, forced relocations and merciful deaths: “That daisy struggles every place we’ve tried it; it’s time to put it out of its misery. But the nettle and fall aster do well wherever we plop them. Maybe we should transplant some asters where the tulips have experienced little green deaths. And what is this? Do you remember what we put here? Is it a weed?”

While we debated, a rookie robin, looking like it indulged in one martini too many, landed on the edge of the birdbath, then wobbled and regained its balance before plopping full-body into the water. Frantic, wings flapping and water flying, it struggled to regain the rim, managing to do so after three frenzied attempts. Recovering, it teetered and shook as though thinking, ”I’ll try bathing again as soon as hell freezes over.”

Confirming spring’s arrival: In mid-May, trees abandoned their winter costume of bare branches and donned the freshly leafed look of spring. In our yard, aspen, though frail-natured and quaking, managed to produce tier upon tier of trembling leaves. Along the alley, strong-willed Russian olives, prickly and squat, dressed for anonymity in regimented leaves of army green. The neighborhood’s veteran cottonwoods — seasoned and efficient — easily produced their full quota of gray-green leaves undercoated with white; and two blocks over, dignified poplars of perfect posture ignored the commotion created by their giddy leaves a-popping into view.

A lady and her dog smelling spring: Strolling through the fragrant air of a Craig spring in full bloom, I saw a frustrated woman scurrying along, one hand covering her nose, the other holding the leash of a happy bulldog intent on sniffing and marking every enticement it encountered. As I approached, the woman attempted to drag her reluctant pet away from a frequently watered rock nestled beneath a blooming bush. “I have to keep him moving,” she explained, “I can’t stand the smells this time of year; really, it’s too much. I have to cover my nose when I pass all this flowery stuff, and he wants to dilly-dally.”

I smiled sympathetically and thought, “If I had to trade places with either you or your dog on this beautiful day, it wouldn’t be you.” And the bulldog winked.

Flowers celebrating the season: The earth, breathing moisture and fertility, wrapped our valley in a mantle of warmth and persuaded the flowers of spring to put on a show. Iris stood at attention, presenting leaves like ceremonial swords and blossom-flags of tender color. Lilacs waved regally, wafting warm perfume to a world renewed. Oriental poppies rippled in time to the rhythms lay down by a sensuous breeze, while high-spirited daisies danced the hokey pokey and shook their heads about.

A family enjoying spring: As I cleared debris from a flowerbed, young parents and a toddler walked by in the gentle sun playing a game familiar to all those who have walked with a child. Holding their laughing daughter’s hands, the adults walked in step and chanted, “One, two, three;” then, with a prolonged “whee,” they swung her into the air. She chortled, and as her feet returned to the sidewalk, like children throughout time, she demanded, “Again. Do it Again.” I heard counting, chortling and demanding far down the block.

Remembering the best day of spring: All day, a hum floated from our flowering trees where swarming bees give in to delirium; an abundant Fortification Creek rushed through the green glow of City Park pretending it was the mighty Mississippi; and, in our arbor, the rhubarb partied.

Janet Sheridan’s book, “A Seasoned Life Lived in Small Towns,” is available in Craig at Downtown Books and Steamboat Springs at Off the Beaten Path Bookstore. She also blogs at www.auntbeulah.com on the 1st and 15th of every month.