In Search of Lady Spring

Here in the woods of the Pacific Northwest, March begins in rain.

And in snow.


Yesterday I counted three kinds of snowflakes: big, fat, fluffy ones; thin watery ones; and hard pellets of hail.

Today I woke to a chickadee’s call.

I hear a faint whisper:  “Persephone returns!”

They say that in Seattle (a hundred miles to the south), the salmonberry is in bloom, snowberry is leafing out, and the yellow lanterns of skunk cabbage are rising from the primordial mud. On the island, I’m told, the red-flowering currant is beginning to blossom.

But not here.

So yesterday I went to the woods in search of Spring.

I found:

Bright green moss.

Osoberry leaves unfurling.

Lichen-covered bark.

Fantastic-looking fungi.

And a vernal pool.

But no skunk cabbage. No trillium. No red-flowering currant.

Perhaps Spring will arrive another day.

At home, a hot mug of tea at hand, I pulled down an old book of folk tales I’ve had since I was a little girl. This book, “Folk Tales Children Love,” must be over 50 years old.

I turned the page, and I found this:

It’s the story of Spring, and how She was late one year, and the children stopped coming to the woods to look for Her.  So she asked each woodland animal in turn to go tell the children She had come.  It was Bunny who took the baskets of soft grass and colored eggs and hid them by the children’s doorsteps, so they would know Spring arrived.

I think this image of Ostara, the Lady of Spring, must have been imprinted on me at age 4 or 5!  No wonder I grew up to love the Lady.

Then I turned to the flyleaf, and I saw this:

I had given the book to my own beloved son, and he had claimed it for his own.

And so, in these early days of March, we await the return of Lady Spring.

And, in the meantime . . . it rains.

Photographs by Joanna, taken 3.4.12.  Sketches are from my nature journal pages, 1999-present.  Book pages are from “Folk Tales Children Love,” by Watty Piper, Platt & Munk, first published in 1932. I have the 1955 edition.

21 thoughts on “In Search of Lady Spring

  1. All seasons and all places has their own unique omens of Spring I have learned. Here it is the fact that you take winter clothes to work but bring out the Spring related ones going home a sure sign – -10 degrees C in the morning now but most likely +5 or so midday in the Sun… But I hear in the Southern part of Sweden all hte flowers have allread arrived. Loved the story about Lady Spring btw!

    1. You know it’s Spring when you have two sets of clothes for each day . . . love that! Glad you liked the story, Anna.

  2. So wonderful to see the plants in your environment and your drawings are just gorgeous. It’s finally felt like spring here for just a couple of days and oh it feels good. Lovely blog post xx

  3. Beautiful post! I am a storyteller and would love to tell the story of Spring to my class. I will have to look for your book!! Thanks!

    1. If you google the name and author, you can find a lot of used copies on Amazon, eBay and Etsy. It is a fun story, and clearly had a huge affect on me! 🙂

  4. Beautiful drawings and photos, Joanna! And what a lovely book! I’m so looking forward to the course. xx Robin

  5. Thank you for sharing your beautiful photos and drawings! They gave me a window into what the land looks like in the Pacific Northwest now. I also really love that story book! How beautiful! I did some quick research (I love researching out of print books) and found out the first edition of that book was printed in 1932. There was a 1955 edition printed, so maybe that is the one you have? If anyone is interested, there are several of the 1934 (second ed.) books for sale on!

  6. Joanna, that was fabulous! I absolutely love that you shared your special book. The images perk me right up. Thank you 🙂

  7. What a wonderful sharing and weaving together of past, present, and future (you have to be able to dream that spring future when the flakes are falling in so many ways in your present!). Thank you for this beauty.

  8. Magical.

    Next week my daughter has Spring break, and I think we will spend some time in the woods with our cameras, searching for Lady Spring.

    What is a vernal pond?


    1. Beautiful, Susan. It’s such a lovely thing to do.

      A vernal pond (or pool) only appears in the winter and spring, when the ground is saturated. It’s dry the rest of the year. It’s at its deepest in spring (“vernal”). It doesn’t have fish, but it does have insect and amphibian life.

      I love the ephemeral beauty of vernal ponds.

  9. Thank you for this lovely gift-early in the morning, a day that promises rain.

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