Tuesday, March 11, 2008

It's heeeeerrrrreeee.....

Spring, that is. Despite my assertions that there will indeed be a touch more winter, the earth came leaping into life last week.

Daffodils are sporting yellow nodding heads all around the house and even by the entrance to the driveway. The harbinger tree -- the one that pops its bright limey-green leaflets before any of the others are even budding -- did its thing more than a week ago. And I think it was Friday when most of the others began leafing. Flowering trees have been blooming for a few weeks now --red bud, flowering quince, flowering pear, pink almond orchards. (Allergy season is kicking in too, as a result.)

The weather is gorgeous -- near 70 or a tad higher during the day, and lately rather gentle even at night -- we've turned on the ceiling fan and opened windows a bit more, although the flannel sheets are still on. Lots of sunshine, blue skies with puffy white clouds, a little wind now and then.

We were on the Sacramento River on Sunday afternoon with friends and neighbors who I was interviewing for a magazine story. They took us out on their boat -- I wrote and Tony snapped photos; they fished and talked. We were river virgins -- first time we'd been out on it, and it was was fun to see houses we knew from that perspective.

From the Red Bluff Diversion Dam -- whose gates come down in May to form Lake Red Bluff -- we wound north to just below China Rapids -- near the Bend area -- and saw an amazing hot spring that bubbled water near 80 degrees. It's from a lava tube coming out of Lassen, and the rocks are all lava rocks there.

The depth varies from only a few feet to more than 30, and our friends said the river is actually quite low right now -- the powers that guard the river dams are keeping water back for the summer, apparently. There's controversy over what will happen to the salmon fishing season this year too -- a huge blow to our river guide friends -- although not unexpected, as the last two seasons have been poor.

We snagged a salmon, too -- unhooked it and threw it back, of course -- but what a magnificent fish. Over the afternoon, we got two more fish -- one called a squaw fish, which is not a desirable one and which they're told to kill before throwing it back, and the other a beautiful steelhead trout, which lives to be caught another day by someone else. What amazing colors streak each of them! Nature has an incredible paintbox.

My dad took me fishing when I was a girl, and I remember drifting in the boat, lines trailing, reading my book and wondering what, exactly, was so great about fishing -- it seemed pretty boring to me. We fished from a dock too, and he taught me to clean fish. I don't remember going often, but I remember feeling special that I got to go with him.

As an adult, I see the pleasure in letting the boat drift along with the current, rod in hand, watching the river, the trees, the landscape, seeing fish jump, listening to the birds. It's a respite from the traffic drone, the machine noises, the concrete sidewalks and streets, and from people talking talking talking. Catching a fish is secondary.

It was a blessing to be out there, and rejuvenating especially for Tony, I think. I have the freedom to be outside whenever I wish, and our land is wonderful, truly, except that I tend to see all the things that I ought to be doing -- planting things, mowing things, trimming, raking, picking up -- rather than just listening to the land.

Spring doesn't whisper here, it shouts.

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