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February 27, 2008
Up through the snow they come, the first brave spikes of this year's daffodil crop. And the primrose's crunchy bright green leaves, sharp against the dark mat of decaying leaves that covers the ground. Soon it will be time to prune back the butterfly bushes and the lavender in preparation for the growing season, and any day now I can bring some forsythia into the house, where it will fill the rooms with bright yellow blooms as part of a process mistakenly called "forcing" -- you don't have to force them. You don't even have to put a nickel in. They're eager.

We all are. I have visited in the south several times in recent weeks, breathed its softer air. There, I have touched actual azalea blooms. Soon, I have told myself, soon we will have these at home. Any day now, I will see a snowdrop. Azaleas in two months, the first daffodils in one. Then the tulips. Later on, lilacs.

The cats petition to go outside several times a day now. It's windy and still brisk, but they're ready to go. It's too cold, Q says, calling to them in vain from the kitchen door. They'll be fine, I remind him, cats have fur.

All of us are coming out of hibernation. The scandal of an early Lent also means an early Easter -- the penitential season seems to speed by when it comes early like this, a natural effect of the shorter days. Easter will be here in just a few weeks and all nature knows it. Even the accountants will close a first quarter.

Just wait, I tell Anna. Pretty soon you'll feel it. Soft, like butterflies. You don't even realize what it is at first. But then it will just keep coming. Like everything else in this pregnant season.

Oh, vegetable rising, animal quickening, both within me and around me, welcome! I did not know how I longed for you until I felt your flutter, began to smell your first humid stirring.
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