By Michael Traynor
“O, Wind. If Winter comes, can Spring be far behind?” – Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792–1822)
If Percy Shelly had lived in Chicago, we all could have answered him immediately. Of course Spring can be far behind! It can be really far behind, you naive romantic poet! No wonder you died young. You should have worn a heavier winter coat!
In Chicago we need binoculars, a magnifying glass, and ample patience to catch first glimpses of spring. Here are some of the “first glimpses” seen in 2020 Chicago. All emerged just prior to the March pandemic “shutdown”. Spring however did not shut down, and the pure moments of joy that came from experiencing moments like these continued on into the year unabated. They await us in 2021. Just stop for a moment once in a while, look, listen, and then behold. Happy New Year!
March 8 (11:53am CST exactly): This first Scilla of spring popped out and shouted “ta-daaa!” near the Conservatory. Look for them first where the angle and heat of early March sun focus intensely.
March 11: Light puffy mounds of snowdrops begin carpeting the barren earth. The center of the mound is slightly elevated, and snowdrops lazily drape downward amidst still dormant trees.
March 12: The first black-crowned night heron of spring flies in, alights at the north pond, and is greeted by a welcoming round of applause rising up from every park denizen. The breeding cycle of new life begins.
March 13: One solitary purple crocus springs forth in a remote, untended corner of the park. It is one plucky crocus to have emerged there at all, let alone be first. It must be a labor of love. A love to shine, to shine for us.
Michael Traynor’s photo essay is the first of four views of the changing seasons at Lincoln Park.