May 17, 2022

The Japanese knotweed is getting tall…


Spring work is going on with joyful enthusiasm.

-John Muir


Waldo and I are going on our trek earlier than usual today.  Normally, we wait until midafternoon, at my insistence, in order to take advantage of the warmer temperatures.  I look forward to being able to walk in shirtsleeves and enjoy it when I can.  But there is also something to be said for doing the morning constitutional first thing and freeing up the rest of the day for other activities.  The days are now warm enough that it’s no big deal to walk when we get up, although I will have to wear a jacket — the forecast is for a chilly and humid late morning.  Waldo, heck, he doesn’t care.  In fact, I think he likes the cooler temperatures.

We rise and I give Waldo his breakfast as I get dressed.  He’s a good eater and eagerly consumes his kibble and drinks some water, even though he has some tanks that need emptying.  I feed him first thing because we’ll be gone for a number of hours and that way he won’t have to eat late.  I put my breakfast off until we return — I’m no longer a young animal and can comfortably get away with it.  All the same, Waldo is eager to go and is frenetically worming his way between my calves and the chair as I sit and try to get my boots on.  I explain to him that he is delaying my getting ready and I can’t get my shoes tied, but he has none of it.  I don’t complain too hard as it allows me to get some puppy love and affection, something that’s going to be in short supply as soon as we get out the door.

Once we get on the trail, true to expectations, the day is cool, but I’m quite comfortable in my light jacket.  Even though lockdown restrictions have been eased, there are still quite a few people and dogs out on the rail-trail.  That’s one good thing that Covid did for humanity — it got people off their behinds and out into nature.  Two years ago, when the pandemic started, the number of people on the trail increased remarkably — exercising there was one thing they could still do outside of their homes that was relatively safe.  It must have whetted some appetites because the number that Waldo and I encounter is still higher than pre-Covid.  We all must be happier for it as, although some keep to themselves and don’t want to be bothered, none seem grumpy or wanting to be somewhere else.  There is no place Waldo would rather be.

Color has exploded alongside the trail.  Everywhere, there are green leaves blossoming on the low-lying bushes.  Even alder buckthorn is coming alive.  In addition, there are white puffs of pussy willows (although still without leaves) and small yellow lesser combine and weeping forsythia flowers.  The Japanese knotweed has started to grow – thick red tinged stalks thrust green leaves upward four to six inches above the ground.  It won’t be long and those stalks will stand eight to ten feet and choke out everything else.  Every day I’m out here I see a change – the rapid reemergence of life after a long winter.

Spring is a time when things change fast.  For so many months now, the cold icy winter has stalled the evolution of the seasons with a monotonous routine whose change can be measured by the number of inches of snow accumulated on the ground.  Now, in only a single day, I’m witness to an eruption of awakening that resets the zeitgeist of my walks with Waldo.  My morning routine, mostly the same in any season, of rising, feeding the dog, getting dressed and hitting the trail, is illuminated by nature’s stirring from hibernation.  And like the sudden whiff of a rose’s perfume, it stimulates my mood and gives it wings to soar above the mundane.  The celerity of spring’s evolution slices through my habitual plodding through life and bathes me in the beauty and magic of the human condition.

I’m not sure that Waldo notices the coming of spring, except there are a lot more sticks around and it’s easier to upgrade the one he carries in his mouth.  I could be wrong, I can only guess, but I think he sees every day as unique and different and that change is just the fabric of our existence.  If so, he’s right, of course, but I do so much enjoy watching the stirring of life as it flows in an uninterrupted stream before my eyes.

And spring has only just begun.


…and the shadows are long.

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