Ruth Rudner
Ruth Rudner

David Muench's National Parks


Read posts by Ruth

Listen to interviews with Ruth

Sign up for Ruth's Mailing List



The twelfth of February was the second day of the first iris along the walkway, the first day of Sandhill cranes circling in huge flocks high in the sky, circling, moving out, heading north.

Spring never eases in. It simply arrives. One day it’s winter. One day it’s spring. The air is different. The light is different. I am different. Change doesn’t show itself as gradual. It doesn’t grow in some measured way so that we become increasingly conscious. It just happens, exploding into our presence, demanding attention. The way Spring happened this noon.

Rudner Early Spring Flowers

I know it will get cold again. The huge winds that gale across New Mexico as if everything that exists should be sand-blasted clean, will bring cold air. We’ll have sand in our eyes and our Rudner Desert Spring Flowersmouths and on all the window sills. The mountain will be veiled behind a sand-dust so thick, there is no difference between the end of the yard and the rest of the world. There is no air, no light. There is only dust, the grating presence of blowing sand, the reminder that we live in the desert. This is as certain as the first iris; as eternal as the migration of cranes.

If we have an April frost, it will nip buds on the apricot tree, the apple trees, the roses. Snow will fall on the cactus blooms, blood red against the purity of white. It will surround daffodils. It will show me there is no separation between seasons. It will show me everything on earth happens at once.

Rudner Daffodils Covred in Snow

Seasons are not inviolate. They do not simply arrive and settle in and allow us to enter them. People talk about a time when that was so, but it always seems to have been a long time ago. And memory is suspect. It picks and chooses from all it has stored ready for the day any particular one may be of use. Ah, yes, memory says, today it feels like spring. And I remember other springs.

In a book called Forgotten Pleasures I wrote about Spring. “One day the ice breaks up, the melting snow swells the beginnings of streams that pour foaming and new down the sides of mountains, transforming gentle brooks into swift rivers, paths into streams and woods into swamps – a great, wild rush of life. . . .A sleeping world awakes; everything on earth is born.”

Once, in order to understand cliché better, I went to Paris in April. What I discovered is that April in Paris is lovely. But so is April lovely in New York, in New Mexico, in New Zealand. (I just noticed all these places—except Paris-- are New. Like Spring.) The only place I know intimately where one ought never go in April is Montana. In Montana, April means mud. Where snow lingers, it is too soft for skiing, too deep for hiking. Snow-free trails mix mud and ice. Roads are glistening, tractionless mud. One should be in Montana from May through March. In April, it is better to be in Paris.

But, as I write, it is still February, a moment out of time, a moment for remembering that which has not yet happened. If we base expectation on something remembered from the past, yet the present moment elicits the memory, is it memory or presentiment? Access to the memory of what has not yet occurred is real. In the circle of life, I believe we can know the future as we do the past. Maybe only those people who connect easily to their intuition are aware of their access to the future. I’m not one of them, yet there have been times I’ve known a particular thing is going to happen. So far I’ve been correct.

Rudner Spring

Are those feelings stronger in Spring, or in a season – like today’s – that brings a moment of Spring? Is it because Spring is the beginning of things? When I wrote “everything on earth is born,” I meant elk calves and bison calves and crocuses and iris. I meant my brother and my cousins and me. I meant the world as it makes sense to me. Shouldn’t we all be born at the beginning of the year? And isn’t Spring the actual beginning?

Sometimes I wonder about marking January 1 as the year’s beginning. Yet, Janus, the two-faced god, presides over beginnings and transitions as fully as does Spring. Perhaps he is more rational than Spring as he looks into the past with one face, the future with the other. God of doors and gateways, he offers access to beginnings, to the instant between past and future. If that moment is the present, then the present is never anything but that instant between past and future. David, fascinated by how the camera stops that moment forever, calls it the “timeless moment,” the eternal, the present frozen forever outside of time.

Spring is not easy.

Copyright © 2014 Ruth Rudner