At the River, At the Equinox

Two short weeks ago, the marsh moaned, groaned and cracked. I stood still and listened, mesmerized by the chorus of deep sounds and scanning to find their origin. But there was no source visible to my eye. The beautiful, mysterious music emanated from below the surface.

When a big splash echoed behind us, I expected to see that a critter had waded into the open water for a springtime bath. But there was nothing there – nothing, that is, except for more ice – and a big chunk of it bobbing in the open channel of water in the middle.

This is spring — slow and lumbering on the one side and fast and raucous on the other.

A week later, the deep laborious sounds of ice are replaced by the rippling, burbling, bubbling of the river flowing through the thin channel to the marsh. The air is full of boisterous birdsong. The deciduous treeline is shifting as buds emerge and swell. The buds of the maple tree have become bright red baubles at the end of barren branches. Within those branches, sap is moving freely with the warmth and sun. Spring’s sweetness bubbles to the surface. 

I wonder what is bubbling in me in the springtime of this particular year. 

What ice of the past season is melting to make way for the movement of the arriving season?

What is that song that wants to be sung?

What is swelling in me, waiting to open until the threat of one last freeze has passed?

And, as I look to the oaks at the edge of the forest, the ones who have stood witness for several human generations, I wonder about the ways in which this springtime is both the same and also different from those that came before. We’ve been in the throes of a global pandemic for a year. We are in the throes of a global climate shift.

For a few summers, we lived in a campsite by a glacial river. It was our only bathing spot. With chunks of ice floating by, our dips were few and fast. Putting your head underwater guaranteed the worst ice cream headache you can imagine. But the reward of feeling clean – or at least cleaner – was worth it. We warmed up on the smooth, gray ice and water washed stones on the side of the bank.

I wonder how springtime is arriving at Exit Glacier this year.

How have the last 20 years of a warming planet re-shaped the landscape?

What will the next 20 years do?

Did this Covid year offer any respite to the delicate ecosystem?

And, considering who I am and how I have come to be here, I wonder,

Will more human hearts be opened and lives changed this year after baptism by the silty, blue-grey, icy river and the bliss of warming on the rocks nearby?

As the seasons change and the cycles persist, I pray that it may be so.

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