Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Spring Release

Every year on the first weekend in May we trek across the mountains with good friends to partake in the Walla Walla wine region's annual Spring Release Weekend. Most of the 120 plus wineries located in appellation are open to the public and pouring from bottles of their newest releases, the wines that have been aging and building character in the bottle that are now deemed ready to at least taste or drink.

Source: www.goodnews.ws
But on a walk through the neighborhood recently I observed some different "spring releases." From a big old Maple tree in a neighbor's yard suddenly, as if blown by an invisible puff of air, a "flight" (the official term for a flock) of barn swallows was released into the air. On cue (perhaps by the threat of a scavenging bald eagle) what seemed like hundreds of the small dark blue and creamsicle-orange birds with their telltale forked tails and curved wings "blew" into the air around the tree, lifting off as one and then flitting off to another perch down the street. Spring release. Signs of spring. Birds en masse where there had not been for months.

On another part of my walk I frequently pass by a vacant lot--though not really vacant. Only vacant
in that it has not been filled with structures by humans; nature has developed it quite completely with alders, evergreens, native shrubs, blackberries and the like and filled it with wildlife--rabbits, opossums, grey herons and other birds to name a few of the residents. At one street-side corner resides a magnificent honeysuckle vine, a perfect tribute to Dionysus (Walla Walla's wine not withstanding) luxuriously draping itself over the tangle of blackberries, horsetail ferns and other lower shrubs and falling back into the arms of a sturdy fir tree. The vine returns every spring without fail, with no help from the fertilizing or pruning hand of a gardener. It is quite simply--obviously--happily situated in the perfect environment, no doubt protected from frost by the hardier ground-cover pressing in around it and fertilized by wild animal excrement and plant decay. I could only dream of growing one even half as big and beautiful. And all of its masses of flowers, like a mantle of strawberry blonde curls, fill the air along the street for 50 feet or more with the most delicious scent, tantalizing enough to cause one to want to stop and stay in that place for eternity or to find a way to somehow capture and transport the perfume home, not to be bottled up but to effuse the air always. Spring release. Intoxicating scents where there had not been for months.

Source: Dean Rutz / The Seattle Times
While stopped the other day, filling my lungs and nostrils with as much of the honeysuckle scent as I could, I turned and looked through the trees beyond it where a ray of early morning sun found a pathway through the thicket in time to see another release--cottonwood pollen. Fluffy white puffs of sinus-aggravating airborne seeds were drifting down like a late season snowfall. Spring release. Trees and plants showering the earth with the hope of life continued.

Spring release...the collective sigh of nature let go from wintery shackles.