The first stage in the progress of spring brings the sighting of “firsts”: first bluebird, first robin, red-winged blackbird, first crocus, first daffodil, first tulip and so forth.
Now with as middle spring approaches, quantity matters as much as novelty.
Firsts are easy now: first hepatica, first violet cress, first Dutchman’s breeches, first twinleaf, first spring beauty, first lungwort, first bluebell, first cabbage white butterfly.
And the discovery of firsts lasts as long as a person might look or listen.
And now, the number of things, the sheer quantity of things to count, complements and blesses the rite of firsts with the overwhelming rite of numeration:
The number of robins, the number of blackbirds, the number of cabbage white butterflies, the number of blooming bulbs, the number of pussy willow in pollen, the number of blood roots, the number of toothworts and hepaticas and anemonies and hyacinths take on more and more importance until all the old first creatures and events merge into new firsts and new amounts, the gathering of such gifts extant in both absence and presence, endlessly sweet.
This is Bill Felker with Poor Will’s Almanack. I’ll be back next week with notes for the first week of middle spring, the second week of the Cabbage White Butterfly Moon and the first full week of the sun in Aries. In the meantime, find firsts. Count and count and count.