Snow crocus basking in the sun.
Early March brings the first subtle small moments of spring. We've had a run of 40s and 50s, enough to warm the top layer of soil and get the trees thinking about April. Years ago, I planted a handful of blue and cream snow crocus around the purple plum tree in the front yard. The tree didn't last, but the crocus have gradually spread so that they dot the front lawn and beds.
These tiny gems are scattered like a handful of confetti across the dusky turf. They form a faint fairy ring around the long-decayed stump of the plum tree. I've caught the neighborhood dog walkers smiling in appreciation as their pooch pees on the monster hackberry in the parkway. I look for them each morning as I pull out of the drive and hunt them up each evening after their petals close for the night.
The lengthening days are my first sign of the long loop upwards into spring. The startled joy of leaving work and realizing the sun hasn't descended below the horizon, the sweet surprise of 5 o'clock rolling around and being able to feed the cats without turning on a light. Then come the snowdrops shouldering aside frozen soil to be the first banners of the annual renewal of warmth and growth. Then the tiny darling crocus open wide their petals in the slight sunlight as if to hold as much as they can until their cups spill over. These crocus are only two inches high and easy to miss. They are a silent signal to pay attention, take a few breaths, explore, and notice.
The stubborn witchhazel has decided at last that it might be time to bloom. It tentatively opened yesterday and will inevitably be downcast by the wintry mix that will arrive in a couple of days. Like the snowdrops and the crocus, it will shrug off the ice and snow, confident that the warming soil and lengthening days mean the world is once again rescued from winter darkness.