If Easter didn’t come around each year to brightly bookmark the arrival of spring, I might miss the season altogether. True spring, that balmy time between bitter cold and blazing heat, doesn’t last long in this part of the world.

When my brother from Virginia recently brought his family to visit us, we congratulated him for arriving at springtime in Louisiana, as if he’d managed to catch a bus before it zoomed away. Spring can be elusive here, not always noticed until it’s gone.

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Luckily, the season sometimes slaps me on the forehead with an insistence impossible to deny. The other day, backing out the driveway for a trip to the office, I heard a rumble across the top of the SUV, like pelting hail. The morning was clear and bright, so I couldn’t grasp what had dropped from the sky to riddle the roof.

But soon I could see that I’d brushed a bough of our loquat tree, the limb so low and heavy with fruit that it was hitting the cabin.

Maybe you know about the loquat, a lovely round thing, about the size of a Ping-Pong ball, that’s sweet and tart, like an apple with an attitude. Our neighbor harvests some of ours and turns them into jam. We eat what we can from the bounty, and the birds devour the rest. They’re the food of choice for cedar waxwings, stealthy birds with eyes marked like a bandit mask, an ideal look for them. As quiet as a jewel thief, a flock of waxwings can descend on a fruit tree and pluck it bare in minutes before they disappear.

Spring is mostly like that for me, tiptoeing past before I understand that it’s vanished. Thank goodness for the small moments that shake me awake and point out the presence of what I’m ignoring. A few evenings ago, fetching the trash can from the curb, I reached for the handle and then thought better of it, startled by a caterpillar on the lid. I don’t think it was the poisonous kind, but I kept my distance anyway, teasing the trash can back to the garage as if defusing a bomb.

Little things throw spring into focus for me. Some mornings, walking up the driveway, I see the tree canopy has made new leaves, the crowns of backyard oaks dotting the horizon like great, green clouds floating over the neighborhood.

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While gardening last weekend, I stopped to check my smartphone — anxious, I suppose, to see what I’d missed while I was clipping back shrubs, picking up twigs, restocking the bird feeders. As I was scrolling through messages, a dragonfly landed on my sleeve, sipping a few drops from a cuff I’d accidentally dampened while hosing out a bucket.

I paused and looked, something I don’t do enough. Upon such hints of resurrection, the promise of Easter finds its voice.

 


Follow Danny Heitman on Twitter, @Danny_Heitman.