Catch It If You Can
In the Sun Lodge after lunch on Friday, I asked Katie what English class was discussing that afternoon. “Annie Dillard’s Pilgrim at Tinker Creek,” she replied briefly before Jen came up and asked us, puzzled, why we were standing around the woodstove as it was about 60 degrees, sunny, and there clearly was no need for the woodstove to be going. It was not burning, and Katie and I both kind of laughed at our huddled stance around the cool woodstove. “Habit, I guess,” I replied and all three of us chuckled a bit.
I did not think much of that passing conversation until I was on a run this morning to my favorite spot in DuPont state forest, Wintergreen Falls. As I came up to the sun sparkling on the welcoming falls, I was tempted to hop in for a mid-run swim. One hand in the still-wintry water changed my mind. However, I was still quite amused as I thought back to my previous visit to the falls two weeks ago. I had run through a few inches of snow to get there and amazing icicles had formed that mimicked stalagmites linking the water flowing off the rock to the water splashing back up near where the flow entered the otherwise-calm pool below. The majority of swimming hole area was covered in a thick sheet of ice. It was breath taking and beautiful, but swimming was the furthest thing from my mind.
The quick arrival of spring, whether it is here to stay or not, surprised and amused me. I almost missed it, but I think, maybe for the first time in years, I caught it. Two quick snapshots: the now comical habit of huddling around woodstoves and the breathtaking transition of my favorite falls, bring a smile and much anticipation about what transitions the next few weeks will bring. The temperature, the garden, outdoor programming trips, and even the growth of our students and community will gear up in the coming weeks.
All of this springtime lust leads me back to Annie Dillard’s Pilgrim at Tinker Creek.
“So, I have been thinking about the change of seasons. I don’t want to miss spring this year. I want to distinguish the last winter frost from the out-of-season one, the frost of spring. I want to be there on the spot the moment the grass turns green. I always miss this radical revolution… This year I want to stick a net in time and say ‘now,’ as men plant flags on the ice and snow and say, ‘here.’… This is the hoop of flame that shoots the rapids in the creek or spins across the dizzy meadows; this is the arsonist of the sunny woods: catch it if you can.”
So to seize the entrance of spring in all its glory, get out there wherever you are, now before it’s too late, and catch it if you can.