Caspar and I are preparing for our mid-morning walk. He leaves his swank green turtle neck tucked into the closet, and I abandon my boots, my scarf, and the red stretchy gloves, in anticipation of the mild weather.
I open the door, and Caspar steps bravely out on the deck, but then hesitates at the top of the stairs. His blindness causes him to take a "leap of faith" every time we go out that way (sometimes we use Husband's lift at the back door). I speak to him encouragingly, and pat his little bum, and down he goes, skimming the steps until he lands in the driveway.
We sniff the air, - despite the dreary skies there is just a small, tantalizing whiff of spring.
Down at the bottom of the orchard the "giraffe" that carries the pruners aloft makes spring-like noises, and the ground is covered with fallen branches. We investigate the branches for signs of buds, but we avert our eyes from the trees. When Master Pruner drives down the road he cannot bear to look at the newly "pruned" trees as the current mode of shaping the trees, opening them up to the sunlight and encouraging the new crop is beyond his ken and offends his sensibilities.The small birds are back. February is full of false promises and frail fulfillment, but the heart of the little bird is brave, and willing to take another chance on warmer weather. Caspar is slightly deaf, as well as being blind, and I doubt that he hears the cheerful twittering of the birds, - none the less he trots jauntily down the road with his tail in the air, headed for the corner of the fence where the dogs from the big house come to meet him and rub noses.
On the way back we detour into the pasture and go to inspect the small trees we planted here two years ago. The buds on the Sunset Maples are beginning to swell, and I go on to the Russian Olive and scratch a bit of outer bark off, - delighted to find it green underneath. A happy indication that it may be recovering from the malady that dried up all its leaves mid-summer last year.
We circle the little pussy willow tree, where the fat white velvety buds are just beginning to develop.
Alas, the little Star Magnolia seems scarcely to have grown in the last two years since we replanted it from the Lost Garden. It is wan, and pale and looks like a little stick man - but the rest of the small trees flourish. I find the cutting shears to snip away at the forsythia and bring a few twigs and branches into the house. We search in vain for a violet or two, - only the Lenten Rose flourishes in the garden now.
Tonight when Caspar and I skittered down the steps again a small sifting of snow lay over the road, though the stars shone and there were gauzy clouds against a navy sky. Fickle, fickle February......