A Less-Than-Epic Quest For Signs Of Spring

There I was, on the second Monday of the present month, heading south from my suburban Philadelphia home to the Abington Art Center a few miles away. I was seated within my trusty 2001 Honda Civic, a vehicle that has served me well. I consider it to be a good friend.

I would be remiss, however, not to note that my wife Sandy feels no affection for my wheels. She used to love the Civic as much as I do, but those days are in the distant past. Yes, its forest-green paint has faded and developed splotchy areas so prolific they stun the eyes. Yes, the fabric that used to be tautly attached to the underside of the roof now billows downward like an open parachute. And yes, those conditions are fixable, but haven’t been addressed because I’m a lazy son of a bitch. Still, are the Civic’s flaws good enough reasons for Sandy to refuse to step foot inside the vehicle and to wish and pray that some day soon it will drive itself to the nearest junk yard and stay there? No, I emphatically state. And I rest my case.

Anyway, the Abington Art Center is a community organization that offers classes and programs in a once-private mansion and whose grounds include a huge, hilly lawn and a patch of woods. I was driving there because a story idea had occurred to me earlier that day: I’d decided to look for and write about signs of spring. Now, spring has been late arriving this year in my part of the States, what with below-average temperatures that don’t seem to want to loosen their grip. And even though I hadn’t seen much springlike activity among the flora in my neighborhood, or anywhere else in the region, I had a good feeling about what I might come across at AAC. That’s what happens when you’re a born-again optimist.

Arriving at the center at around 2:15 PM, I began my stroll. Right off the bat I noticed that there were no trees in flower. And that there were no flowers worth mentioning of any kind except for the yellow beauties attached to a large forsythia. In other words, there wasn’t much to write home about at AAC when it came to flowers.

As for the trees, they appeared as they would have in the dead of winter, at least to my eyes. No doubt the leaf-budding process had begun, but highly-myopic me was unable to determine that for a fact, as so many of the the branches were too high up for me to discern much about them. At eye level, though, there was some action, because bright green leaves were emerging on scraggly bushes that were fairly populous on the grounds. All in all, though, there wasn’t much to write home about at AAC when it came to buds and new leaves.

But I wasn’t disappointed that my article about the Earth’s vibrant rebirth would have to be put on hold. In fact, I very much liked the look of my surroundings, where practically every shade of tan and brown known to man was on display. I’m a big fan of blisteringly bright colors, but I’m totally down with neutrals too.

What’s more, I liked the quiet of the place. I heard one dog bark for a few seconds, and the sounds of automobiles on the roads bordering AAC were now and then apparent. But overall, things were peaceful at AAC. No other human crossed my path or field of vision during the 70 minutes I spent there, and so I found myself getting lost in the center’s 20 or so acres of semi-nature. Not lost in the sense of not knowing where I was, but lost as in going with the flow. I don’t know about you, but my life sure could use many heavy doses of the latter on a regular basis.

Flow-wise, I spent time in the pursuit of, well, whatever. I began to look around and was glad to notice, for instance, complex tangles of roots and branches, scalloped white fungi plastered on a fallen tree limb, and elegant beige leaves that had refused to drop from their tree’s branches during the winter.

A bunch of back-to-nature types of sculptures have been placed within the woods. Of those, the one I liked the best (Just Passing Through, by Laura Petrovich-Cheney) is a string of five tree trunks. Only the bases of the trunks were used in the sculpture, a display of elemental shapes and of the power of deep browns. One day these trunks will have rotted away and become one with the soil.

We have arrived close to the end of this essay. Hoping to leave with a sort of bang, I’ll make mention of something I hadn’t expected to find within the woods. Namely, inserted into the barks of a number of trees were small mirrors. I guess that Jeanne Jaffe, the artist behind the mirror sculptures, if you want to call them that, was very civic-minded, wishing to give the public the opportunity to check if their makeup needs refreshing or if their nose hairs could use a trim.

Me, I peered into one of the mirrors and was highly disappointed by the visage staring back at me. Might as well take a picture of my reflection anyway, I decided. Yeah, my iPhone’s case is pink. I like pink a lot. In fact, by the time my next article hits cyberspace there’s a good chance that I’ll have dyed my hair the most shocking hue of shocking pink available. I’ve been thinking of doing that for the longest time. And there’s no time like the present, right?

But if I do, Sandy probably will see to it that I’m inside the Honda Civic when it decides to drive itself to the nearest junk yard. That’s life.

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70 thoughts on “A Less-Than-Epic Quest For Signs Of Spring

  1. Candice April 15, 2018 / 2:39 am

    I love that mirrors in the tree trunks idea. Don’t you just love coming across something unexpected like that, sort of like not expecting your phone case to be pink. 😉

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger April 15, 2018 / 9:39 am

      Hello there, Candice.
      Right, good surprises add a lot to life.
      Thanks for stopping by. See ya’ —

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Isabelle April 15, 2018 / 3:38 am

    Hi Neil, the view from AAC resembles the woods not far from where I live. The early signs of spring and the feeling of tranquility. Inserting mirrors in trees is creative. I enjoyed tracing the humourous sense between the sentences very much.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger April 15, 2018 / 9:41 am

      A day or two after I was at AAC, spring started to become more apparent in my region. Flowering trees began to open up, etc.
      Thanks for dropping by, Isabelle. Take care.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Isabelle April 15, 2018 / 11:51 am

        The temperature started rising yesterday. It’s about 15 degrees today. Snow melting in an incredible speed. Spring seems to have reached both your region and mine. Thank you Neil. You too take care.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Li April 15, 2018 / 3:40 am

    Your phone is cute, but it looks more like fucsia to my eyes (you might call it light magenta, as well… And of course it may be pink in actuality; at least seen under normal daylight in the afternoon.)

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger April 15, 2018 / 9:45 am

      Hello there.
      I like your observation. So, I took a good look at the phone’s case after I read your comment. To me, it’s bubble-gum pink. I think that the colors you mention have more purple in them than my case does.
      See you —

      Liked by 1 person

  4. joyce hamilton April 15, 2018 / 7:47 am

    Nice Spring articles . My favorite photo is large knot in tree with your picture. Stroll around Glencairn and catheral and you will find many beautiful Spring flowers and photo ops.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger April 15, 2018 / 9:46 am

      Hi Joyce. Yes, spring is opening up in our region, though today is a pretty raw day.


  5. Deb April 15, 2018 / 8:18 am

    They were teasing you Neil. I bet all the buds popped out just after you left… 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Ann Coleman April 15, 2018 / 10:21 am

    I love your argument style: an empathetic no, and then resting your case. Simple, yet oh so effective! As for your photos, I think they did a great job of capturing the colors of pre-spring. A bit drab, but when we look closer, they do have their own quiet beauty. Although personally, I admit I’m not a fan of the mirrors in the trees. When I’m out in nature, I’m looking for beauty. Which is definitely not what I see when I look in a mirror!

    Liked by 2 people

  7. vprofy April 15, 2018 / 10:26 am

    Sold my “green” Civic on retirement. Yesterday we thought summer so we headed to Island Beach. Quite windy but he held on for several hours and brought local scallops home for days dinner. Today turning out to be a fire day.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger April 15, 2018 / 11:05 am

      Good to hear from you.
      I’ve had the Civic for 17 years. It has grown on me over time.


  8. Lynette d'Arty-Cross April 15, 2018 / 12:07 pm

    Spring seems to be late everywhere, with intermittent snowstorms and freezing rain. It is melting here though – thankfully. +6C last week. Great photos. 🙂 I’m not sure what to think of the mirrors.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger April 15, 2018 / 2:21 pm

      The weather today where I live (near Philly) is chilly and raw.
      It looks like you’re right, Muriel.


  9. Laurie Graves April 15, 2018 / 2:26 pm

    Spring has yet to show her pretty little face in Maine. We keep our cars until it costs too much to get them inspected. If you dye your hair pink, do post a picture on your blog.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Anabel Marsh April 15, 2018 / 3:39 pm

    Nothing very Spring-like to report here either. However, I can report that I drive a car of similar vintage to yours. Why not, it goes?

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger April 15, 2018 / 4:52 pm

      Years ago, cars didn’t last too long. Since 1980 or so, the quality of cars has improved a whole lot.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Alyson April 15, 2018 / 4:03 pm

    Spring arriving very late here in Scotland too – Only the yellow Forsythia starting to flower so far in our garden.

    Interestingly we had a 2002 Honda Civic until last year when it was finally replaced by something Sandy would probably prefer! The Civic just kept on going and looked as good as the day we bought her so why replace her prematurely if we didn’t have to?

    Liked by 2 people

  12. sniderjerry April 15, 2018 / 4:04 pm

    Hi Neil, As Robert Orben pointed out, “Spring is God’s way of saying ‘One more time’

    You should get a Honda Accord – The Bible says we should all be in one accord.

    Not sure what to say about the mirror….maybe a reflection of a great writer. Aall the best, Jerry

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger April 15, 2018 / 4:55 pm

      Hey there, Jerry.
      Don’t know when the Civic will be retired. But I’ll keep the Accord in mind!
      See ya’ —


  13. Anonymous April 15, 2018 / 4:23 pm

    A StoneHenge display of tree stumps. The Honda- another relic. Peace & love, Sherri F.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger April 15, 2018 / 4:57 pm

      Hi Sherri. Good to hear from you. I hadn’t thought of these things as relics, but you’re right.
      Me, I like relics!


  14. andrewcferguson April 16, 2018 / 2:12 am

    Great article as always Neil. Spring is slow out of the blocks in the Scottish Lowlands too, although there were some encouraging signs this weekend. I, too, am a proud member of the Ancient But Not Entirely Knackered Civic Owners’ Club – ours is a 2007, with a few scrapes and dents but its engine still firing on all cylinders. Bit like its owner, really (most of the time).

    You should definitely go for the pink ‘do!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger April 16, 2018 / 6:45 am

      Good morning from the Philly burbs. It is raining like crazy here. I think that a nice spring isn’t in the cards for us here this year.
      Bye for now —

      Liked by 1 person

  15. Annika Perry April 16, 2018 / 3:17 am

    Neil, I felt quite soothed and restful as you lost yourself in the moment of your wanderings … the park looks so peaceful! I’m sure the signs of spring were there and in Sweden I love how the top of the tall birches go purple when just in bud but these need to be viewed from some distance. Hmm…interesting idea with the mirror but not sure I need to see me when out but we got a look at your cool iPhone … now I’m waiting for your new hairdo!! 😀😀

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger April 16, 2018 / 6:49 am

      Hi Annika. I was surprised that I had the grounds all to myself. It’s good sometimes to be “alone.”

      Thanks a lot for stopping by here. Be seeing you —

      Liked by 1 person

  16. cath April 16, 2018 / 5:00 am

    Looks like a fascinating place, with or without leaves.

    Pink hair? We must surely have a picture of that – someone might have mistaken you for a brave cherry tree if you’d done it before your walk.

    Liked by 2 people

  17. greenpete58 April 16, 2018 / 8:38 am

    Gotta love a man who loves Honda Civics. I had a black 2001 Honda Civic HX (manual) for 13 years, and put 220,000 miles on her. The only issue I had was an air conditioning Freon problem. Now, I drive a cherry-red 2015 Civic (automatic) that gets over 40 mpg. When I go on long overnight trips, I fold the trunk down and unroll my sleeping bag, so she also serves as a temporary home. (Don’t tell my wife.)

    Liked by 2 people

  18. cincinnatibabyhead April 16, 2018 / 6:04 pm

    “Getting lost” in nature is CB’s thing. Having a place like that to yourself …love it!

    Liked by 2 people

  19. twobrownfeet April 16, 2018 / 9:57 pm

    Your essay made me smile! 🙂 I guess, I’ve been lucky this spring. I spent the last two weeks chasing every blossom I could set my eyes on. The blossom frenzy is nearing its end and I will have to start looking for other flowers of the season. 🙂


    Liked by 2 people

  20. pjlazos April 17, 2018 / 1:41 pm

    We have a 1998 Honda Accord and all three of the kids have driven it and despite a smell you just can’t quite describe, the car runs beautifully. 😉

    Liked by 2 people

  21. Anonymous April 18, 2018 / 11:54 am

    Loved your “reflective” (in many ways) article.

    Liked by 1 person

  22. alhenry April 19, 2018 / 4:49 pm

    I agree that mirrors embedded in trees are a sign of spring, though I’m not quite sure that is what you were saying here.

    Anyway, I commend you for going in search of this increasingly mythical season. I just gave myself a 4-day writer’s retreat (actually, it was b-day gift from very supportive husband) in the wilds of western Massachusetts. I chose the third week of April because, duh, it would be reasonably warm (mid 60s) and sunny. ROFLMAO I shuffled from the hotel to the coffee shop every morning in heavy sweater and anorak (gloveless, because who needs winter gloves in April? I thought when I was packing) to fetch my LARGE java, which I carried through the sleet back to my hotel. Well, the weather kept me honest–at my computer and working like one possessed.

    Happy Spring, Neil. And I agree: There’s no car like an old car.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger April 19, 2018 / 5:46 pm

      Hi there, Amy.
      “Increasingly mythical season” — you’re right!
      I read a comment from a major league baseball player a day or two ago. He thinks that the baseball season should be shortened, so that not too many games are played in April, what with the cold, lousy weather that much of April usually has.
      I remember going to nighttime baseball games in April (this was in the late 1970s and early 80s) and freezing my ass off.
      Anyway . . .

      Liked by 1 person

  23. America On Coffee April 20, 2018 / 9:19 pm

    Nice outing. The story about the man without car – took him longer to get there and sometimes he didn’t make it to his destination at all. Have a fantastic weekend!!!

    Liked by 2 people

  24. K E Garland April 21, 2018 / 10:25 am

    Mirror sculpture tree thingees??? I love it lol It’s like modern art.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger April 21, 2018 / 11:19 am

      Morning, Kathy.
      The person who made the mirror/tree sculptures has a real good sense of humor.

      Liked by 1 person

  25. tanjabrittonwriter April 22, 2018 / 8:20 am

    I cannot wait to see a photograph of pink-haired Neil in a forest-green Honda Civic. Everybody’s heart would melt, including Sandy’s-I am sure of it! May spring overtake you soon.

    Liked by 2 people

  26. dweezer19 April 25, 2018 / 12:13 pm

    Wow. 70 whole minutes without human interaction. I dream of it. One of those mirrors might gave startled me though! Lol. I love earth tones too. Thanks for sharing your stroll with us!

    Liked by 2 people

  27. jeanleesworld April 29, 2018 / 10:14 pm

    Thanks for taking us on this journey! I love having a camera to start wielding about amongst the trees and flowers, even if they’re hardly awake. There’s always something worth the capture.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger April 29, 2018 / 11:08 pm

      Hello there, Jean. It’s true — things of interest are all around us.
      Thanks for stopping by. Take care —

      Liked by 1 person

  28. theresagreen May 7, 2018 / 6:16 am

    There’s no doubt the arrival of spring is joyous but those last few days before it ‘happens’ are special too – so full of hope and expectation. But I do hope your spring is turning out to be as glorious as ours over this side of the pond!

    Liked by 1 person

  29. laura petrovich cheney September 30, 2019 / 1:53 pm

    thank you so much for the mention! i just found this article today!

    Liked by 1 person

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