Explosion of green

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(Host) Commentator Willem Lange marvels at the explosion of new life that ends very winter.

(Lange) There’s one day every spring when the long-pent energy all around us, triggered by the strengthening sun, explodes into life. This year, it was last week. It didn’t look like much when the dog woke me at dawn: a faint drizzle, bare trees spectral in the swamp. Then two geese passed over, down low, talking to each other.

I stuck a hand out the window to see if I needed a raincoat, and the surface of our pond stirred with excitement. I’d startled a pair of ducks. Hooded mergansers. I drew my arm quickly back into the bedroom; but poor judges of human intentions that ducks are, they left.

It was a daffodil day, skunk cabbage and trout lily green in the swamp. It was a day for robins on the lawn; for rain to soak into the ground; a day, practically speaking, to burn brush. But it was also the first day of trout season at my favorite pond. A couple hours’ work first, half a dozen errands, and lunch. The drizzle had imperceptibly increased to soft showers. Perfect! It would take about an hour to soak me through, and that should be plenty of time. A little after two I loaded a canoe and headed out.

The pond was gray and still, subdued by the falling rain. At its far side, in the cove up against the hemlocks, there was still floating ice. The warm air hanging over the ice had condensed into a thick fog. But the pond was exploding with life. A tiny blue-winged mayfly was hatching, and the surface boiled with the swirls of grazing trout.

The tree swallows were back. They were playing in the rain for the sheer joy of flying over water — water that was hatching out edible bugs. Suddenly they swooped away, and a reflection in the water passed the canoe. Red-tailed hawk. He tried to glide a little, but the air wouldn’t bear him. He landed on a snag on the far side of the pond, hunched his shoulders, and scanned the field for mice and voles in the still-short grass. The tree swallows came swooping back.

Up on the hill, a couple of carpenters was replacing the windows in a cabin. “Hey!” I hollered. “Hey, yourself! How ya doin’?” “Good, ‘n’ you?” I’m finally learning some basic Vermont. Then it was time to fish a little. I picked out a fly and tied it on. Whatever happened next would probably happen right away. But no rush. Like sniffing a brandy before sipping; like dancing with the woman you know you’re going to marry; like starting on the voyage to Ithaka: best to make the pleasure last. I began to feed out line, and tensed for one more wonderful explosion of life.

This is Willem Lange up in Etna, New Hampshire, and I gotta get back to work.

Willem Lange is a contractor, writer and storyteller who lives in Etna, New Hampshire.

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