After I got home from delivering Meals on Wheels this afternoon, I pulled on my English wellies and went out for a walk in the Upper Arboretum. The sun was making short work of the four inches or so of fresh snow we received on Monday. The sun was blinding on the white snow, and I was glad to have my wellies for wading through the slush at the curbs on the way to the Arb.
In the arboretum, there was a steady crack and patter of ice breaking off of the trees and falling to the ground. On the Hill of Three Oaks, the bur oaks were beautiful against the white snow and blue sky. There were fresh ski tracks laid down along the trail, but they were already in places melted down to the pavement beneath. On Evans Hill, several young children taking advantage of what I hope will be the last day of sledding for the season. There was a two-hour late start for the schools this morning; this afternoon it again feels like spring.
Another sign of spring was this bucket collecting sap from a maple tree near the corner of Second and Nevada. The sap is running.
The best place in the area to see trees being tapped for maple syrup is down at River Bend Nature Center in Faribault. Later this month (on Sunday, April 20), the nature center will be having a "Maple Syrup Run." The top male, female, and child runners in the 5K "fun run" will receive a bottle of maple syrup from the trees at RBNC. And from 10:00 am to 1:00 pm that same day, there will be a pancake brunch at the nature center (click the link for details from the RBNC website).
Here's a poem I wrote about River Bend Nature Center back in the late 1990s. It first appeared in the newsletter of the Cannon River Watershed Partnership, and was reprinted in my chapbook, The Collecting Jar. My friend Molly Woehrlin, who was the editor of the CRWP newsletter at the time this poem was published, recently attended a choral festival at Westminster Presbyterian in Minneapolis. She brought me back the program, which included a reading of this poem.
These places, like Old Testament miracles,
have ceased to exist, waiting for us
to recreate them. Like a prayer
the snow falls, my footsteps
scatter sparrows from the grass,
the ducks mumble over their pond. The prairie
cups itself to my ear, closes out the empty
stomach-rumble of the highway, and I hear
the grass voiced like an organ
with wind and birdsong, tongues of milkweed pod,
winter poised above me like a dark chord.
I come here with a heart in waiting,
to learn the patience of seeds sleeping
winterlong above the frozen earth, the patience
of Sarai waiting to be renamed into flower.
This prairie is a covenant renewed
in the earth, a promise delivered
in the voice of fire, just as Moses heard
the voice of God in the wilderness. Here
I listen to the requiem of snow, the earth
awaiting the resurrection of its dead,
the whisper of wings making angels in the air.
Copyright © 2005 by Rob Hardy
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