Counting the Seconds II

Here is February 2016’s installment of the 3s/365d project.

Winter is a long season in the Netherlands (or so it feels to this shivering Texan). I grew up in a botanically aware family, and I learned from them to observe plant behavior as seasons peak and transition. Japanese culture pays particular attention to seasons, too. An ancient Japanese calendar counts 72 microseasons, many of which are characterized by the sensitivity of the natural world; the current season, for example, is 草木萌動 (Sōmoku mebae izuru), which translates to “grass sprouts, trees bud.”

We just concluded our first year in the Netherlands, and I’ve paid attention to how the plants respond to seasons. The 2-story-tall willow trees on the banks of a pond near our home didn’t grow leaves until well into April, and I was surprised to see cherry blossoms and hydrangeas blooming deep into autumn—both of which have their own very specific seasons in Japan that are decidedly not in the autumn months.

In this video are some of the first glimpses of spring. Crocuses reached above ground almost overnight on February 1, and a week later plum blossoms held tight to their branches during some pretty nasty, windy weather.

And, while they aren’t plants, another sign of spring: a gaggle of six Canadian geese that we watched grow from goslings last year have returned from their winter migration. They’re fat and honk loudly, and Clint and I are happy they’re home.


The music: “Moonage Daydream” by David Bowie. During the last weekend of February we went to Groningen, the northernmost “big city” in the Netherlands. The Groninger Museum was hosting the David Bowie is interactive exhibit, and it was really, really cool.


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