We returned from Rome late Saturday night. As we landed in Munich I could see a wet runway and leaden horizon, an ominous change after a week of sunlight and a brilliant blue skies. Fields stretched away in the growing dusk, dark brown and dun. As the autobahn climbed toward Salzburg, the brown changed to dingy white, barely perceptible in the dim light.
While we had been away, though, it had also been warm in Salzburg. Here on Katzenstraße, most of the snow has melted, save for crusted patches next to fences and gate pillars or under trees. Since we’ve returned, the sky has cleared but once or twice to allow a hesitant washed-out blue to break through pewter clouds.
Even so, the days are getting longer. Light fills the bedroom when we awaken now, and even at six in the evening I can see into the wood next to us. Tits, nuthatches and blackbirds still come to the feeding table, but yesterday I saw a blackbird plucking at a mound of earth in the garden. I haven’t seen the bold black squirrels for a couple of weeks now. They must have retreated to trees deep in the wood, perhaps to nest. A week or so ago, I began to hear a bird test his voice. Now, all morning, bird song thrills the air.
From my office window the other morning I saw movement in the wood. A figure wearing pink was coming in the direction of the house. I recognised our friend and neighbour Edith; she was carrying a basket filled with slender branches from a tree or shrub, its fresh growth bright red. And last night on Facebook she reported that the snowdrops are blooming. ‘Hoffnung auf Frühling’—Hope of Spring—she added.
Genau, as they are fond of saying here. Exactly. This morning as I stood watching from the kitchen window something caught my eye at the edge of the fishing pond beyond the houses that face us. Across the expanse of grey-blue ice, at the edge of the opposite shore, a faint line of white ruffled and frothed. Water was lapping the shore. The ice is receding.
There is hope of spring.