joy & moxie

restful creativity
Atmospheres Whimsy

Spring Is Moxie

Magnolia blooms near the Mueller Tower, University of Nebraska.

There is nothing quite like an early spring – one that comes a few weeks ahead of “schedule”, but right on time, as far as we’re concerned. March is mercurial, always wavering on the spectrum between lion and lamb. For the last few years spring in Nebraska has been both of these – warm, cold, warm. There was snow in May last year. I remember a recent St. Patrick’s Day that made it up to 75º, just as it will today.

The magic of early spring (or an early spring, if we want to be grammatical) is the resurgence of color, the opening blooms and few insects. For the first time in months, the windows are open and the air inside is fresh. Beatrix loves having a window to herself – the first time not having to share with other cats – and watching unsuspecting birds nearby.

And she’s shedding, which calls for preventative everyday brushing. A small price to pay for a delightful companion. As of today, she has been with me for two months. Ninja has been gone three. Time flies.

With spring comes a frisson of relief, and the urge to clean house and “declutter” the closets. Creatively, it is a time to lean into my work and to take joy in it – writing with the windows open, telling myself that, yes, I can be done with this crappy first draft by the end of the May. I began spring cleaning on my novel by dividing sections into chapters, giving those chapters names, changing the font, reading passages I wrote months and weeks ago. Taking care of the little big things. Spring is open and full of possibilities, fresh ideas – fresh flowers, dang it! – and that impulse to go out and capture it all.

Spring is moxie.


So here I am again – taking walks with my camera, trying to study and enjoy these mild, delicate days before the summer comes, and with it heat and humidity, mosquito swarms and spiders, thunderstorms and weeds. I’ve counted crocus blooms (crocuses or croci?), and magnolias, blooming bushes and buds, daffodils in sunshine and nascent tulips. I’m eager to see irises and honeysuckle, and cherry blossoms in red, white and pink.

Every spring I try to grow seeds in the windowsills, dreaming of living indoor gardens. After last year’s fruitless efforts, I might just content myself with Trader Joe’s bouquets. Or else take more walks.










And the birds. Winter was silent and empty without their happy chatter and their busy-ness, those little voices overhead, targets of cat espionage. Another reason I am more than glad to keep little Bea indoors.



So, the robins are back and busy. I’m always amazed at home calm they are, how wise. They don’t twitter quite the same way that the finches do, and, oh, have I heard finches. I’d love to photograph as many songbirds as I can this year – even in the middle of the city. Goldfinches, house finches, cardinals, chickadees (ha, those elusive little things), blue jays, maybe a wren (double ha, judging from their size). The only way I can hope to do this is to take my walks without music, because listening for their songs is half the battle.

I’ve also half a mind to rig up a little bird feeder outside one of my apartment windows. Magnets, maybe? Something I won’t miss if it flies off during a tornado watch? Something that won’t damage the window? Seems a better scheme than indoor gardening. Maybe. There is only one way to find out.


House finch in Lincoln. A flash of red.

Oh, to be a little red bird this time of year.

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