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Spring puts on a silky show

When leaves finally unfurl in spring, they unfurl almost all at once. In two or three days my world is transformed, and I am surrounded by huge masses of pale-green silk reaching to the sky, blowing in the wind. I leave the windows of winter and go outside to revisit all my favorite places, to see them in their new finery.

Silk it is. As I walk through the forest with my corgi, Al, we brush against the leaves of small beech trees that grow beneath tall maples and pines. They feel like the soft scarf-silk that I buy in France and hem on the plane on the way back home. And it isn't just beech leaves that are silky: they all are: maples, ash, birch. All winter long, they are folded up in tight waterproof covers. Spring releases them, irons out their wrinkles, but like butterflies just emerged from cocoons, leaves are still young, fragile.

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Not only are they all silky, they are also the same pale gold-green color, translucent. As the leaves mature, each kind of tree has its own shade of green so subtle as to drive amateur landscape artists to distraction and their palettes into pea soup. For a few magic days, though, leaves match from tree to tree.

So Al and I set out to check on a certain pond, four old-stone-boundary-walls away from my house. I first saw it as a shiny bit of blue mirror at the base of a steep hillside covered with pines and slippery underfoot from their needles. I hadn't been there since fall, because its location makes it unapproachable in winter. It is almost invisible unless you catch a glimpse of it from just the right spot.

Up close, it is an almost perfect circle, framed by rocks, tall hemlocks, and pines - except for one place where a fringe of reeds indicates a small earth dam made by beavers or men, long departed. The pond is fed by a brooklet that chuckles its way into the still water. A wooden dock about 10 feet square extends into the water. No houses are in sight or nearby, nor is anyone else ever there.

I sat on the dock and soaked myself in stillness, sunshine, and the reflection of the hemlocks in the blue mirror. Al scouted along the narrow edge of the water playing his frog- chasing game, and occasionally he'd glance over at me to share his happiness.

I looked down into the water and watched schools of tiny fish zooming along in their world, in and out of brown masses of water-weed. I crumbled up one of Al's dog biscuits and tossed it to the fishes, who devoured all the crumbs in a flash.

Half asleep, there in the sun, I looked beyond the dock, close to the edge of the water. Some of the brown water weed on the surface mingled with other green plants.

In the middle of the weed patch, looking straight at me with a brilliant jewel of an eye, was a large gold-green frog head (the rest of him was in the weed). He was the very same gold-green of the silk leaves, no visible body, just that head, immovable, not even a blink, staring at me. And furthermore, he had that huge, God- given, built-in, ear-to-ear smile. What more can anyone ask of this world?

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Happy spring!

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society