Day 33, 17 April 2020


The students gave a thumbs up to my plan for next week – I am curious how many will show up, but if none do, I am totally fine. (And not in this sense fine.)

I skipped the book club, and went out for some much-needed vitamin D. Or at least some fresh outside air; there wasn’t any sunshine and it was colder than it was for most of my stay this winter in Belgium! And I want to share with you that right now my favourite moment in nature is happening: the unfolding of the leaves!

Very young maple leaves unfolding.
Little O2 factories in development!

Towards the end of every winter in the US I start to look longingly to the trees, and wonder when they will burst forth with their new tiny oxygen factories, as I like to think of leaves. Winters are significantly more devoid of colour here than the parts of Europe where I spent most of my life, and by the time we get to late January and into February, I am done with the grey, drab, colourless existence if there is no snow to disney-fy everything. (I like snow. I know it’s a pain but if you’re going to do winter without colour, make it snow.) And while blossoms are fabulous, it’s the young green leaves that do it for me. The tender green colour, the potential they hold for growth, and the promise of shade and them rustling in the summer wind… I think it’s the same reason I love bumblebees so much: with their little fur jackets on, they tend to be among the earliest of the summer insects out and about and to me they scream “official end of winter!”, even if we were to get a random snow dump still. It never ceases to amaze me how nature just comes back, year after year.

Yesterday, there was also the official news from the Commonwealth’s Public Health official that the curve is flattened in Pennsylvania. Of course that doesn’t mean the end of the prevention measures yet by a long time, but it’s another tiny pocket of hope opening up. Between that, the bumblebee queens out last week looking for nesting spots, and the green leaves on the trees, those pockets are getting quite roomy. Come on in, there’s plenty of space here!

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