Blackberry Life

Crescendo Rising

Something is stirring in the mountains. It's not quite Spring. When Spring arrives, it comes complete with the song of the white-throated sparrow and the droning hum of honey bees in the clover of rural lawns. It brings daffodils, tulips and peach tree blossoms. No, this is something else. Something stronger, if you will. The swelling of an ancient song, sung over the natural world. It begins in the air and is best observed from some high and desolate outcroppings of rock in the back country. It is the time of ravens. It is now, in the shifting light between Winter and Spring that they perform their acrobatic feats above Miller's Cove and the DuPont Valley. Over Millstone Gap and the Wolfhook, along the cliffs of Chilhowee, they roll, dive, twist and turn. The sound of their primal calls only deepens the silence around them. The nest is built. The eggs are laid, the color of the stones on the mountain.

The sea of trees beneath their flight is flushed with red. The maples have begun to bloom. It is a pale foreshadowing of the riot of Autumn. A golden shaft of light breaks through the clouds and strikes a lone maple in full bloom. As quickly as it appears it is gone, reabsorbed by the swelling red tide.

Spread out before me, the secret treasure of the forest, hidden deep in the roots of the trees during the long Winter, is rising up. Something more powerful than Spring is awakening. Something that must break the grip of Winter before Spring can come. The days are slowly growing longer. Tomorrow, when the sun rises, it will bring with it a new light.

Boyd Hopkins, Head Naturalist

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