I stepped from Plank to Plank
A slow and cautious way
The Stars about my Head I felt
About my feet the Sea.

I knew not but the next
Would be my final inch -
This gave me that precarious Gait
Some call Experience.

Emily Dickinson, c. 1864

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Spring has sprung

Crocus outside the YMCA
That picture of the beautiful crocus in the sunshine was taken on Friday after my morning class at the Y. I had a couple of hours to wander around and take pictures before my noon swim class. It was such a beautiful day, full sunshine and smiling faces everywhere. And this morning, we set our clocks back to "spring forward." The sun will set tonight after 7:00pm here in Bellingham. The first official day of spring is just over a week away. I made it through another Pacific Northwest winter.

I've lived here for five years now, after more than three decades in Colorado's sunshine and high altitude. Here I experience short, often gray overcast days with little to no sunshine during the three long months of winter, when the sun sets early and rises late. It's very green here, in contrast to Boulder in the wintertime, but the constant sunshine in Colorado caused me to take it for granted. Here I rejoice in the sunshine and the few days of full sun during the winter months.

Yesterday I headed south on a gorgeous sunny day, no clouds in the sky at all, to the Snohomish Drop Zone. Not to make a skydive, but to attend the all-day-long Safety Day that Skydive Snohomish provides for its skydivers. It was the first weekend day since the beginning of the year that was so beautiful, but the owners made the decision months ago to have Safety Day rain or shine, and so they did. I attended five different seminars and pretended to have a malfunction and pull my handles as if I needed to deploy my reserve parachute. I was reminded how to inspect my gear and even learned a few tips I didn't know.

In the old days in Colorado, it was me who gave those seminars and taught young jumpers how to be safe. I had forgotten things I didn't think I would ever forget. This year, and now that I am a seasonal skydiver, I needed Safety Day. But it was not easy to wander around outdoors between seminars in the full sunshine and see those aircraft sitting idle on the ground. This particular operation is committed to safety, and I really needed a refresher. Today the weather is not so good, with the clouds and rain having moved back in, so I will need to wait until at least the upcoming weekend to "get my knees in the breeze" for real.

I thought last season would be my last one to skydive, but I'm not ready to give it up quite yet. Perhaps this will be my last season, as my aging gear and physical body keep reminding me that there will be a day in the not-too-distant future when it will not be a choice; it will be time. I hope I make that decision wisely, not after having hurt myself on landing or otherwise. Keeping myself fit and eating right has delayed the inevitable moment when I hang up my gear for good.

My regular jumping companions were all there yesterday, and we commiserated about the beautiful weather but enjoyed Safety Day. After five seasons of jumping together, it amazes me how close we have become. I have developed a family at Snohomish, and we are all looking forward to playing together in the sky, for at least one more season.

Back here in Bellingham, I have my other virtual family, those seniors with whom I hike every week. For five years now, I have explored the wilderness and experienced the good days and the bad ones with another group of like-minded people. My life is full, and spring is here, with the promise of sunny days when I can pull out my sunscreen and put away my rain gear. Now that's one kind of gear that I don't mind hanging up for awhile. Again, it's seasonal; there are hardly any more beautiful summers than we enjoy here in the Pacific Northwest, with all the shades of green to contrast with those gray days of winter.

It's again dark outside as I sit here with my laptop. This time yesterday there was light in the sky, but we lost an hour of sleep overnight, and I will notice how long the days have become tonight when the daylight lingers in the sky and the sun takes its time to set. By midsummer, it will be the long days that feel like they will never end. I wonder what it's like to live even farther north, when the sun never sets in the summer and never rises at all in the winter.

I'll probably never find out what it's like, since this home I've made here in Bellingham is just right for me in my later years. Now it's time for me to post this, but first I'd like to make a toast to you, my dear readers: I wish this upcoming spring and summer season to be memorable to every single one of us for all the right reasons.


Heidrun Khokhar, KleinsteMotte said...

I thank you and wish you many nice sky jumps this season. You are very positive about where you are in the moment.
Will you grow a garden of veggies soon?

Linda Reeder said...

As the sun comes up this morning it's just turning a lighter shade of gray. Oh, how I loved the two sunny days we just had! Like you, yesterday, I was "trapped" inside, actually having a lovely day with family saying a forever farewell to my uncle. But any chance I had I would go outside and find a sunbeam to stand in.
As we drove around the city we saw flowering trees popping into bloom and big bunches of golden daffodils
soaking up the sun.
Yes, we have made it through another winter. Spring will be the tease it always is, but let there be light!

Anonymous said...

I like the way you describe the coming spring after a gray winter. It must be nice to see flowers popping out of nowhere. Hope you enjoy skydiving this year and the thrill of being with your old pals in the sky.

justme_alive said...

& here's a toast to you! "May the road rise up to meet you, May the wind be always at your back, May the sun shine warm upon your face, And the rains fall soft upon your fields. And until we meet again, May God hold you in the palm of his hand." ~ Kimberly

Arkansas Patti said...

Wishing the same back at ya. Good to know the safety day brought some reminders as well as renewing friendships.
Spring is springing here with 70 degrees and a gentle rain.
My garden went in yesterday and toes are crossed that no freezes are in the future. I just couldn't wait another day. Enjoy the sunshine.

Far Side of Fifty said...

You have Spring! I am very happy for you! We still have snow..LOL:)

Red said...

Thanks for the wishes for a good summer and the same to you. I think that climate is only a small part that contributes to our satisfaction. We have to have a decent attitude. You are open to a challenge like sky diving and hiking so you have many things you really enjoyed. You keep yourself in good mental condition as well as physical.

Sally Wessely said...

Thanks for the wishes for the coming season. I am looking forward to it as are all the rest of your readers.

I honestly don't know how you make it through those Pacific Northwest winters. I need my sunshine. On the other hand, you are so rewarded with those beautiful flowers that grow in you climate. We can't have it all when it comes to our environment. I'm so glad the one you chose for these years of your life are working so well for you.

The Broad said...

Here in the UK we don't change the clocks until Easter Sunday! So a ways off yet... We went to Bellingham once and I enjoyed the day very much. Especially finding a pizza place owned by two folks from Boston who made it like they do on the East Coast! I admire you so much for your skydiving activities -- something I would never ever dare to do -- but wonderful that you are still fit enough to particpate in the sport. Happy Skies!

Friko said...

Thank you DJan, that’s very kind of you. My good wishes go right back to you.

If only it were spring here, winter has come back with a vengeance. it’s bitterly cold and I think even you wouldn’t want to be hanging around in the sky in the freezing cold, blustery winds.

My the new season treat you well. But do take care.

amanda said...

I was drawn to find your site to visit, after your simply eloquent comment on our mutual blog friend, Troutbirder's polar bears.

Spring is only changing by way of daylight so far for us.. though subtle things are happening despite the deep snow. I found lilac buds while on my snowshoes today!

I've always wondered about what it's like to live further north in the land of the midnight sun, too.
We have a small cabin in remote northern Ontario.. the daylight is a bit longer there in the summer.

Enjoy your blog, I will be back!

Glenda Beall said...

I am so tired of rain and gray days, and recently saw a flower blooming in the edge of my yard. It gave me such hope that spring is coming soon. But tonight the temp is falling again and winter is still here.
My best wishes to my for a beautiful and happy spring and summer.
I wish I could some day see your part of the world, but it is far away from me.

Dee said...

Dear DJan, thank you for your toast to all of us. I'm looking forward to the coming spring and summer somehow I can feel possibility in the atmosphere. Peace.

Stella Jones said...

Cheers D-Jan, may you continue to stay young at heart... x

CrazyCris said...

This post was made me feel very peaceful DJan!

We just moved our clocks forward last night... And I'm glad this year it has fallen on a long weekend (Monday is a holiday here) because this change always gives me trouble when I have to get up early... :p

It's wonderful you've been able to find two such great "families" to enjoy being outdoors with! I'm slowly developing my "hiking family" and it makes being out on the trails a lot more fun!