Just an hour or so after the moon rose in the east over the Sierra Friday evening, it happened.
Gentle air movement in the chilly night punctured with just a tinge of warmth brought the first whiff of nature’s sweetest scent into the neighborhoods of southeast Manteca. The early varieties of almonds are in bloom offering a natural high you can obtain from inhaling the sweet elixir made possible by millions of busy bees.
Earlier in the day jogging past nearly stark orchards little bits of white cotton-like buds could be seen. It was a clear sign winter’s grasp is starting to slip.
There is something delightfully sinful about this time of year.
You can feel the slight return of morning warmth. Buds are starting to form.
It's tough to beat the return of spring. All of the young Silicon Valley Turks can write all of the code they want or animate away to their hearts' content, but they will never match the wonder Mother Nature sketches on the landscape as the chill of winter starts to fade.
The stark beauty of tree and vine skeletons in the countryside will soon burst forth in a kaleidoscope of color and sweet scents. It won't be long until the nakedness of the last three months disappears under lush foliage. And instead of searching for sun to break up a dreary day we'll be heading for shade beneath stately sycamores with their leaves rusting in the cooling Delta breeze.
It's a crime against one's self not to take the time in the coming days to marvel at plants, trees, and the valley itself comes out of its winter slumber.
Look closely as roses rush to sprout new foliage. They will go from seemingly barren dead sticks to bushes rich with leaves and elegant blooms in a matter of weeks.
Nature is coming out of its sleep. Some do it rapidly like the tulip trees. Others like Japanese maples take their sweet time turning buds into delicate, lacy leaves.
Grass or weeds start popping up. If you skip a day of checking their progress out, you'll be astonished at how fast they sprout up.
It's odd, in a way, that we view winter that is being chased slowly from the valley, as an unwanted season. We often associate winter with depression.
But winter is the reason why we have spring.
The long slumber has given trees and plants a renewed vigor to spring forth.
Nature uses winter to wash away the last traces of the yearly cycle of life — the good and bad — and begins anew on the next.
We should do the same too.
Winter is a time to shed failings — real and perceived — and to start fresh.
Our transgressions will pass just like winter itself.
Take advantage of the gifts given us at the cusp of spring by Mother Nature.
Drink in the sight of 42,000 acres of almonds around Manteca, Ripon, and Escalon are ablaze in delicate white and pink blooms in the coming weeks. Brave the slight nightly chill, when almond trees are in full bloom and open your bedroom window. You will have the sweetest dreams possible drifting off to sleep snuggled under covers as nature's intoxicating scent is carried by gentle breezes from the orchards to your pillow.
Scan the horizons to see glimpses of the snow-capped Sierra. Take the time to soak in the vastness of where we live by trekking to high perches such as Mt. Diablo. There on a clear late winter day you can see stately Mt. Shasta to the far north, the Sutter Buttes, the Range of Light, the fertile valley, the whimsical meanderings of the Delta, as well as the Bay Area and beyond the Golden Gate.
Such a sight opens your soul and heart.
We tend to live in boxes we make, physical and otherwise. We take short casual trips boxed in a car when we could walk and soak up what is around us. We lock ourselves in houses controlling the climate by a thermostat. We even do the box thing with our lives creating parameters we don't venture beyond.
There is no better time to put everything into perspective and to refresh your outlook than right now.
Go ahead. Smell the almond blossoms. And then smell the roses.
It will lighten your load.