I'm not lucky enough to have any of the flowers we generally call spring ephemerals in my yard, but this year I can vouch for the ephemerality (is that a word?) of spring. After the slowest start in memory, spring took off and raced ahead, leaving barely enough time for the slow-sighted among us (me, of course) to notice the details.
By the second week of March, I was convinced that the ground squirrels had eaten all the crocus bulbs; there wasn't even a sprout to be seen in any of the beds. Then one day--whiz! a flash of yellow!--and the first snow crocus appeared in the streetside planting. Within ten days, all the crocuses were gone, done in by the first seventy-degree day.
And don't get me started on tulips. We have so many deer that I planted only a few pastel Darwin hybrids, longer-lived than the fussier varieties of tulipa, behind the chain-link fence of the previous homeowner's dog run. For the longest time, I thought they'd died or been eaten by squirrels, but finally, toward the end of March, some spindly leaves emerged. By the second week of April, there were tight green buds, but I returned from a weekend away to find the tulips in full bloom, and after only a few more days, spent from several warm days, wind, and heavy rains. 2011 will go down in my life as The Year Without Tulips, given the brevity of their show.
But some good things have sneaked up suddenly. Just this week, the neighborhood dogwoods went from naked twigs to full bloom, and the splotchy plumage of the goldfinches is now full, glorious gold, a brighter yellow than any other bird in our middle latitudes.
If we could only convince spring to slow down enough for us to notice it, but maybe that's our problem?