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Between The Lupin And The Laurel
by [?]

No other time of the year, on our northern Atlantic seaboard, is so alluring, so delicate and subtle in its charm, as that which follows the fading of the bright blue lupins in the meadows and along the banks of the open streams, and precedes the rosy flush of myriad laurels in full bloom on the half-wooded hillsides, and in the forest glades, and under the lofty shadow of the groves of yellow pine. Then, for a little while, the spring delays to bourgeon into summer: the woodland maid lingers at the garden gate of womanhood, reluctant to enter and leave behind the wild sweetness of freedom and uncertainty.

Winter is gone for good and all. There is no fear that he will come sneaking back with cold hands to fetch something that he has forgotten. Nature is secure of another season of love, of mating, of germination, of growth, of maturity–a fair four months in which the joyful spirit of life may have its way and work its will. The brown earth seems to thrill and quicken everywhere with new impulses which transform it into springing grass and overflowing flowers. The rivers are at their best: strong and clear and musical, the turbulence of early floods departed, the languor of later droughts not yet appearing. The shrunken woods expand; the stringent, sparkling wintry stars grow mild and liquid, shining with a tremulous and tender light; the whole world seems larger, happier, more full of untold, untried possibilities. The air vibrates with wordless promises, calls, messages, beckonings; and fairy-tales are told by all the whispering leaves.

Yet though the open season is now secure, it is not yet settled. No chance of a relapse into the winter’s death, but plenty of change in the unfolding of the summer’s life. There are still caprices and wayward turns in nature’s moods; cold nights when the frost-elves are hovering in the upper air; windy mornings which shake and buffet the tree-tassels and light embroidered leaves; sudden heats of tranquil noon through which the sunlight pours like a flood of eager love, pressing to create new life.

Birds are still mating; and quarrelling, too. Their songs, their cries of agitation and expectancy, their call notes, their lyrical outpourings of desire are more varied and more copious than ever. All day long they are singing, and every hour on the wing, coming up from the southward, passing on to the northward, fluttering through the thickets, exploring secret places, choosing homes and building nests. In every coppice there is a running to and fro, a creeping, a scampering, and a leaping of wild creatures. At the roots of the bushes and weeds and sedges, in the soft recesses of the moss, and through the intricate tangle of withered grass-blades pierced with bright-green shoots, there is a manifold stir of insect life. In the air millions of gauzy wings are quivering, swarms of ethereal, perishable creatures rising and falling and circling in mystical dances of joy. Fish are leaping along the stream. The night breeze trembles with the shrill, piercing chorus of the innumerable hylas.

Late trees, like the ash, the white oak, the butternut, are still delaying to put forth their full foliage; veiled in tender, transparent green, or flushed with faint pink, they stand as if they were waiting for a set time; and the tiny round buds on the laurels, clustered in countless umbels of bright rose among the dark green, glistening leaves, are closed, hiding their perfect beauty until the day appointed. It is the season of the unfulfilled desire, the eager hope, the coming surprise. To-day the world is beautiful; but to-morrow, next day–who knows when?–something more beautiful is coming, something new, something perfect. This is the lure of wild nature between the lupin and the laurel.

At such a season it is hard to stay at home. The streets all seem to lead into the country, and one longs to follow their leading, out into the highway, on into the winding lane, on into the wood-road, on and on, until one comes to that mysterious and delightful ending, (told of in the familiar saying,) where the road finally dwindles into a squirrel track and runs up a tree–not an ending at all, you see, but really a beginning! For there is the tree; and if you climb it, who knows what new landscape, what lively adventure, will open before you? At any rate, you will get away from the tyranny of the commonplace, the conventional, the methodical, which transforms the rhythm of life into a logarithm. Even a small variation, a taste of surprise, will give you what you need as a spring tonic: the sense of escape, a day off.