Last week I snapped a photo of the stubborn slab of gritty snow that is the final vestige of the blizzard of ’17. This crust of snow is found wasting away in the sudden spring heat at the side of the Tops supermarket parking lot in Hancock, NY. It is the last of the towering snow banks that reduced the sidewalks to narrow, walled footpaths following the historic March snowstorm.
My husband, John, and I had gone out to town to pick up our lawn mower, which had been serviced for the new season. The shop was buzzing with customers dropping off and picking up mowers and chainsaws and weed whackers. People were cheerful, enjoying the warmth, and happy to be done with winter.
That same day, I snapped a photo of the first daylily shoots emerging along the bank of State Route 97 near Hancock. I have watched this bank of flowers develop each spring since I was a little kid riding to town in the farm truck with my parents. It was a place that created a sense of home merged with an exotic world, as I waited for the beautiful orange flowers to bloom each June. This spot is one of many specific places that I seek out each year to greet the new season—come alive in the new growth of the first spring wildflowers.
On the west end of the village of Hancock, John and I also visited the patch of skunk cabbage that grows in the swampy woodlands adjacent to Old Route 17. It took me a while to find the hooded, purple plants. But they were there like little hobgoblins bobbing up through the muck.
Closer to home, I found the first delicate blooms of spring beauty (Claytonia virginica), hepatica (Hepatica acutiloba), blue cohosh (Caulophyllum thalictroides) and the mottled leaves of trout lily (Erythronium americanum) on the sunny banks of the woods neighboring our home.
Not to be outdone, the cultivated flowers were also emerging. The spears of daffodil and hyacinth were up (they were already in bloom in town.) The bushy leaves of my crown imperials were up and looking healthy. However, they have always yellowed and died before blooming. I always have the hopeful thought that maybe one year—maybe this year—they will survive.
In my garden, I found that my sage plant had survived the winter and was greening up. John uncovered the asparagus patch. And I found the red, fisted leaves of rhubarb pushing through the dirt.
It was quite a day. Generally I look for the minuscule changes as winter gives way to spring. I track the hopeful increments of increasing sunlight. But last week when the temperatures rose into the 70s there was no holding back. From our early morning trip to Hancock to pick up our lawn mower to our first barbeque on the grill in the evening, I felt the energy of the new season. It was suddenly spring.