Last week, the weather was warm enough for my husband and I to eat outside on the deck, and at night to sleep with our windows open. We woke in the morning to the sound of a phoebe singing a spring song. I imagined the male bird advertising his availability. Then I thought of the lines from Alfred, Lord Tennyson’s poem, “Locksley Hall.”
In the Spring a fuller crimson comes upon the robin’s breast;
In the Spring the wanton lapwing gets himself another crest;
In the Spring a livelier iris changes on the burnish’d dove;
In the Spring a young man’s fancy lightly turns to thoughts of love.
Night before last, we sprang forward, moving our clocks an hour ahead to daylight savings time. (Click here for a previous post on the topic.) Of course there are other signs of spring here at Vanaprastha. Budded maples around our house tint the forest red. Purple crocuses and velvet-trumpeted daffodils bloom in our meadow. Yellow forsythia and decorative plum trees dressed in pink line the roads, just in time for Easter. Next month, hummingbirds will arrive, first males then females in May.
As I walk the mountain road these days, I inhale a new light perfume. The scent rests lightly on my palate. My step is lighter, too, more youthful.
Many people say that smell is the most powerful sense for memory. The smell of homemade bread, ginger cookies, corned beef (for St. Patrick’s Day) might call forth memories of Grandma, Mom, Dad or Granddad. But for me, it’s the sound of birds, especially those spring calls.
But I can be fooled. Maybe it wasn’t a phoebe. Male chickadees are known to call fee-bee, fee-bee. Maybe that bird call, whether phoebe or chickadee, meant something quite different. Perhaps his sweet song was less for love and more for defense, claiming his territory and cursing other males. Even if fancy warbling springs from love, there’s no guarantee that he’ll catch the attention of a female, nor that he’ll win her affection.
As my stepdaughter Gretchen wrote in her journal some time ago, “Has spring never fooled you with kisses that didn’t blossom?”
Ah, but the thought of those kisses.
That morning last week, my husband whistled fee-bee, fee-bee. I sprang up and planted one right on his kisser. Then I got some in return.
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