April 27, 2014

Morning at the Marsh

I can finally feel it.

Life, returning to the earth. The bitterest of winters has finally retreated, and spring is ushering in new life where there was nothing but a frozen world.

Plants, for many months dormant under the frozen ground, eagerly push up through the softening earth. We rejoice at the sight of anything green after months of nothing but white.

I honestly thought it might not happen. There was a time, several weeks ago and more than five months into the worst winter in thirty years, that part of me felt I would never see green again.

I want to capture the morning sounds of the marsh as I sit with my window open and write. My vista is the scenic overlook of the Vernon Marsh at the end of Frog Alley Road in Mukwonago. My home is somewhere across this wide expanse of nature-in-the-wild.

I come here, where the morning sun warms my face, and listen for the sounds of life returning to this place. It has been a frozen world for so long. It makes me feel peaceful to hear life returning to this place.

Now I can hear the songs of many songbirds that have returned, including the red-winged blackbirds calling to each other. If I close my eyes, I can imagine steamy, hot summer afternoons in the marsh, with tall cattails towering over me, and turtles hiding in the cool water or resting on a log warming themselves.

As I sit here with my coffee, I can hear the sand hill cranes call out sleepily from some hidden place below me in the marsh.

I hear the robins, who have begun their earnest song: 

"It's Spring! 

It's Spring!

It's Spring!"


After a difficult day recently, I came here early to spend time with God. I wanted to spend time in prayerful thankfulness for His constant presence through the trials of the previous day.

I found such healing beauty here in the morning songs of the birds, the caress of the sun, and the soft vistas of morning light, that I vowed to come back here frequently to start my day.

I've always felt closest to God through nature. And though I've never felt far from God through this seemingly endless winter, my heart has longed to feel life and hope through my connection to the living, natural world.

I always do my happy dance, at least in my heart, when I can finally feel the earth's life energy return; when I can feel the earth coming back to life as I walk through my back yard with bare feet in the cool grass.
Winter in the woods at Retzer Nature Center

Though life is present in winter, I liken it to molecules frozen in ice -- they move so slowly as to seem non-existent. This is how most of the natural world feels when we are in the deep freeze of a long Wisconsin winter. 

But now I can feel that the earth, at least here is our part of Wisconsin, is once again a living, breathing entity, full of life, offering the promise of the next two seasons of great beauty in the flowering and green plants that thrive in our seasonal warmth.

We all feel it. Everyone seems to have more energy, and people smile more readily. Perhaps this is a partial explanation as to why we live here, and why we endure the long months of bitter cold and snow.

Perhaps we wait for the reward of new life; that feeling of renewal, that grabs us and turns us to face the sun and its warmth. To know the inexplicable joy that finding that first blooming crocus brings, and to see the tulip leaves pushing up through the earth with their promise of springtime beauty.

Now I'm not saying that I wouldn't like to try living on Maui, where flowers and natural beauty bloom year-round. I'm certainly not saying that at all!

But our reward for enduring months of cold, bitter winds, is the promise and hope of new life that springtime brings. We feel this deep in our being, and wait with hope for the change in the seasons that will bring life back into our natural world. 

Truly, this renewal feeds me to the core of who I am. My creativity is flowing again, right along with the sap in the maple trees. It won't be long until summer is in full bloom. But for now, let us cherish the simple joys of springtime. And offer thanks for the many little surprises of new life that blossom around and within us. 

Here are the early morning sounds of the marsh I captured on video to share with you. Enjoy!

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