Tag Archives: Easter

The First Weekend Of Spring In Pictures


Blackbird at Cedar Lake

Blackbird in bush by Cedar Lake at sunset. The bird was angry with me for being there, but I still felt that his temper tantrum made it feel like spring. April 6, 2014.

OK, it’s not really the first weekend of spring, no matter how you measure “spring.” The equinox was way last month, and March is usually a chilly, early spring month in this climate.

It wasn’t this year. March is the traditional transition time, it’s supposed to enter as winter (come in like a lion) and exit spring (out like a lamb). This year, it came in as a polar bear with January-like zero lows, and exited as a slightly less cold, but still chilly, polar bear.

But by Saturday April 5 the world here felt very different. My oldest granddaughter had her party for turning 6, and is obsessed with “Frozen,” so my wife found her dolls of the two main characters. Despite that, the world felt far less frozen, finally, this weekend.

Some signs that spring is here include:

Flowers in bloom. No snowdrops, which is sad because I like those pretty little white flowers that usually grace my garden before the first crocus, and many crocus have yet to be sighted—but in the warmest garden on the south side of the house, the first purple flowers burst into bloom Saturday.

Crocus in bloom

Crocus in warm garden on south side of house–first flowers I have. They even beat the big old maple tree, which is spitting a lot of sap but has not quite bloomed yet.

The untimely arrival of the Easter Bunny. It’s still Lent, but a local greenhouse jumped the gun a bit with its annual Easter-themed “bunny trail” tour, and we took some grand-kids.

Easter Bunny

Granddaughter and wife with Mr. E. Bunny. Or possibly Ms. Bunny. Hard to say.

Changing of the guard at Cedar Lake. The eagles departed—I hope you’ve been seeing some clips from the Decorah eagle cam, where the spring news has been surprisingly good, with two eaglets hatched—but pelicans have moved in. The cries of many kinds of birds can be heard on lazy spring bike rides around the lake.

Pelican and other birds.

Pelican among other birds on Cedar Lake, April 6, 2014.

Backyard play. There was a lot of digging in the sandbox, attempts at hula hoops, swinging and ball tossing this Saturday.

Boy tosses ball.

Grandson tosses football into the air. Backyard spring training is underway.

Ducks on street corners. I shot this image Friday, where the mallards had been swimming in this corner puddle until I reached for my camera and they retreated to the nearby lawn.

blog02

Ducks inspect street puddle in Kenwood neighborhood in Cedar Rapids April 4. The female had been swimming in it when I stopped to take their photo. I think they look embarrassed.

Well, there you have it. The green tinge you’ve been noticing in grass is not a mirage. Our maple tree in back has been spitting sap like crazy. We may yet see snow—snow in April is pretty normal in Iowa—but the new season, even if it took it’s time getting here, is finally underway. More spring photos from Cedar Rapids on Flickr.

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Some Forest Flowers to Brighten Easter Sunday


Hyacinth

Hyacinth in my wall garden--looks like an Easter flower to me.

Not that it needs much brightening. Easter is a fun holiday from both a secular and religious point of view—the biggest theological “upper” of the calendar and a stress-free, chocolate filled funfest that only leaves one hard question: How does a rabbit get all those eggs? And why?

Anyway, I know the lily is a symbol of Easter—supposedly bloomed where Jesus cried, a white symbol of purity for Mary. Such traditions are fine if we don’t take them too seriously—after all the plant we know in America as the Easter Lily was actually a post World War II export from Japan.

For my money, in Iowa the hyacinth makes a more apt Easter symbol, at least in my garden.

But today I focus my thoughts, such as they are, more on faith and wild violets. The violets were blooming today in the woods behind my house, where my grandson Tristan insisted on going for an afternoon walk.

Yellow violet

Yellow violet Tristan and I found in the woods.

Most wild violets are, well, violet. But today I saw some new colors—soft blues and yellows. Did not know our Iowa native violets came in those colors.

Blue violet

A soft blue violet (note some violet violets off to the right).

It was a nice surprise. Doubly so on Easter, a day to reflect on gifts and blessings and new life. If I look, I can see some connections between faith and flowers in the woods. Some plants are delicate and need a lot of attention, and can die out if not well cared for. And then there is hardy and unexpected beauty, found in the shade of thorn and walnut and ash tree. My own faith seems both ways in different seasons of my life—dormant during the winter of late adolescence, blooming beautifully with the birth of my kids, a bit quieter, but, I hope, more resilient now.

Jesus himself used a lot of “seed” and farming or gardening parables.

I know my own faith has sometimes come naturally, sometimes seeming strong like a sturdy oak, but at other times is shallow-rooted and sickly.

Well, although I went through a long agnostic period in late teen and young adult years, I think a love of plants and gardening is partly what drew me back to God. What wonderful, unexpected beauty one finds in unlikely places.

I know that flowers in the woods don’t require a belief in God. Certainly, atheists and agnostics appreciate yellow violets. Yet, faith is not entirely rational, and I can’t shake the feeling that there is a hand of a creator in this beauty.

My rational left brain knows the violets are just having sex and evolved different colors in the stiff competition for the attention of pollinators. That’s how life works.

But on Easter, it’s not by itself enough. Although I know that I’m an ape whose ancestors struck out across the grasslands while our relatives stayed in the trees and became knuckle-walking quadrupeds, I feel in my heart I’m something else, too. Maybe taking billions of years to make slowly out of the dust of comets, but crafted in the image of something by someone.

Call her God.

And I believe that Jesus died for me. It’s a scary thought, but an awesome one too.

Such are my ethereal ruminations while strolling slowly through the woods, photographing wild flowers among the trunks of still sleepy trees.

Happy Easter!

Wild flower

Don't know what wild flower this is. But I like it.

Rhododendron

Final image. Rhododendron in front bloomed today, just in time for Easter.

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