It's that time of year when suddenly I notice the signs of spring, or perhaps suddenly they appear.
I spotted one of the first dandelions last week from on board a CTA bus—there was just a scraggly handful of them. Today the lake at 53rd Street is sporting a thick pelt of them Like last year when I first noticed those patches, I wondered why entire swaths of grass were yellow before I realized what they were. I may be mistaken, but I associate dandelions with late March in western New York. Spring's harbingers seemed to appear a month earlier there. But that could be distance and nostalgia speaking.
Earlier, I'd noticed the bushes at the Flamingo sprouting leaves. Last weekend, finally they appeared on some of my favorite trees, including the horse chestnut across the way. Now some of the trees along 55th Street are in full white flower.
Last weekend, twice I flushed a male cardinal, once by the back gate and once by the back door. While the cardinal is a snowbird, a favorite of Christmas card producers, he's in nesting mode now, less shy and more protective of his territory.
When I came home the other evening, I stepped off the sidewalk to look at what appeared to be a patch of dead white grass surrounded by healthy green grass. As I was prodding it with my foot and realizing that the clods had been loosened from the earth, something made me look to my left. There, a few feet away under the bushes, the mama rabbit I'd been worried about all the long, cold, snowy winter was peering placidly at me, her nose twitching. Oh, I can't be 100 percent certain it's her, but this one had a similar silver coat and a similar alert but unafraid demeanor. I've seen two rabbits together, so I am hoping there will be babies this year just like the last couple of years. I miss my two companions of a few summers ago, who sat under my table while I wrote, more like favorite pets than wild animals.
Today dawned sunny and so clear that the deep green of the watered grass (April showers) and the deep blue of the lake are almost painful under the cloudless sky. The anticipation of such agonizing beauty is what keeps me going through March, when even I have had enough of pewter skies and leaden waters.
If I could burst into song, I would.
Afterthought: While I was at Bonjour for little more than one hour, clouds appeared in the west. By the time I got home (where the maintenance people had removed the pool cover and were painting the patio furniture, more indications of spring), clouds were intermittently blocking the sun. From clear to cloudy—or springtime in Chicago.