Spring in the Methow Valley of Northeastern Washington comes quietly, a gradual warming, winter grass rustling with the breezes carrying promise of new life. I am here for my first spring, though I’ve been here often winters, occasional summers and falls. I’ve never seen the opening here, the uncovering of so much asleep, the pale yellow winter grass so thick it seems nothing green will come again, that all is lost.
I head out for a hike along Virginia Ridge toward Mt. Gardner. Amidst the dead grass and dry pine needles, the cones of the Ponderosa along the trail, flash improbable patches of color: tiny pink blossoms, other small yellow and blue flowers, and yellow daisy-shaped blooms. They come out of nowhere, these glimpses into spring and the life that is growing under the surface. I’m new to this valley in the spring; I do not know their names.
How important it is to know names—is it enough to simply notice, to take the time to pay attention? There are birds here I don’t yet know, though I looked up the mountain bluebird the other day. He is common in areas of forest opening to meadow, where we are staying. Hanging up a hummingbird feeder, we’ve had several visitors with backs shining orange and green. I know they are hummingbirds, but not which kind.
So much is happening around me. I am not equipped to understand. It is not enough to notice. I need to meet and learn this world, to know it, to be saturated in beauty.