It’s almost springtime, and here in usually temperate Western Oregon, where we have had an unusually cold winter, complete with 9 school snow days, 5 snowstorms, and 3 major ice storms, we are really ready for the weather to break. At the moment, it is back to more “typical” winter weather, but since a typical winter here means “approximately six months of rain”, that is not much of a consolation. It’s raining, but the signs of spring are all running a month late.
On Sunday, I saw my first batch of blooming daffodils. Ours have poked their leaves cautiously from the ground and are tentatively unfurling buds, but while walking to the library, I saw a full row of gloriously blooming yellow daffodils nodding in the stiff breeze. The yellow is a vivid shock of glowing color against the unremitting muddy brown of the ground (even lawns are muddy by this point in the winter), bare-branched trees, and unforgiving leaden gray skies.
The viburnum are finally blooming too. Commonly called daphne, these shrubs are boring filler until late winter, when they are covered with unprepossessing flowers. Truthfully, they are unremarkable plants, except for the scent. Oh, the dizzying sweetness of the viburnum on a cold day in late winter! Up close, you don’t really smell anything, but walking past, the scent trails you and sucker punches you with its full impact when you are six feet past the plant, hurling you from your winter doldrums with the visceral reminder that things will grow and spring will come. I love the smell of the viburnum more than anything else in late winter. Soon enough, the leaves will swell, Oregon’s flowering trees will burst into raucous life, the crocuses, hyacinths, lilies-of-the-valley, tulips, daffodils, and irises will carpet the ground, the mornings will be filled with birdsong, and the mud and gray and cold will recede.
For today, I will hold on to the image of a row of blooming daffodils along a muddy, weathered fence and the promise of spring.