Simultaneous realities I – The Window

(written this past weekend)

     Today, our first big winter storm is howling outside the kitchen window.  Last night when we walked the dog, sugar snow was starting to fall.  By this morning, there were maybe eight or nine inches on the ground.  As I wash the dishes and look out the window, bushes are laden with snow, snow blows off the roof, all is white and frozen.
     When I shorten my gaze, I look into a plexiglass box that sits just in front of the winter window. In that box five weeks ago were the dormant vestiges of fall: small evergreen plants including one with red berries*; some mosses and lichens; three withering herbaceous plants**; the soil they are rooted in; a piece of rotting wood hosting the lichens; acorns; decaying leaves; and a stone. It looks like a piece of the forest was lifted and settled into the box, like a diorama. In those five weeks, nothing changed.
      But something was happening. I knew it would, because I've done this before. I knew spring would come to the box, but I didn't know when or how.

      And now in the midst of a snowstorm a moth has emerged, just as two green spikes of Canada mayflower (Maianthemum canadense) have pierced the soil. Over in the Oxalis corner, a little stem with a tight crunch of embryonic leaves has appeared, and I expect 
later today it will open its three shamrock leaves like the moth opened its wings, ready for sunlight.

      I don't know if there even was winter in my box, or if it went from fall straight to spring. But just on the other side of the window, winter lives ferociously in the dragon wind of this storm. It seems miraculous – or like cheating – that here on this side, is spring. I can stand here washing dishes, and witness two realities simultaneously while I am living in the dry protected warmth of a third.

* clubmoss (Lychopodium sp.), a white pine seedling (Pinus strobus), a balsam fir seedling (Abies balsamea), partridgeberry (Mitchella repens), and wintergreen (Gaultheria procumbens)

** starflower (Trientalis borealis), bunchberry (Cornus canadensis) and wood sorrel (Oxalis montana)