Raindrops gather on a patch of green leaves in downtown Vienna.
A painting decorates the exterior of the Green Party headquarters in Vienna.
The bark of an old cottonwood tree in a Vienna open space is covered with moss.
A roadside meadow comes to life with wildflowers in Tulln, Austria.
A dried leaf curls in a bed of moss in Thayatal National Park, Austria.
Old fruit trees.
It’s always fun to watch the world come out of winter hibernation and nothing says spring like lush green. Add a sprinkle of raindrops and a few flowers — not to mention a colorful mural, and let the good time roll. It’s a time and hope, both of which are needed in these troubled times. If the Earth can renew itself, so can we!
Downtown Wien …
Near the Flakturm in Vienna’s 7th district, a couple of locals try an early ping pong game at a public table.
Downtown dog-walking at the corner of Lindengasse and Neubaugasse in Wien’s 7th district.
Bubble blower, Mariahilferstrasse, Vienna.
Rainy day pinks at the Siebensternplatz in Wien.
Early spring in the Mondscheingasse, Wien.
It doesn’t take long for Vienna to wake from its winter sleep. Just as soon as temperatures get into the 50s and 60s and the sun peaks out a little, cafes set up their outside tables where people huddle around even if they still have to wear a winter coat. In the parks and town squares, flowering trees add splashes of color to the neighborhood scene, and ping pong enthusiasts can strike up a friendly game in the park near the Flakturm. But keep your umbrella handy because April showers are not uncommon in the Danube metropolis.
Hepatica blooming in Thayatal National Park.
Forsythia and ornamental trees flowering near the Votivkirche in downtown Vienna.
Hepatica, one of the earliest wildflowers to bloom in the spring, pushing up through the fallen leaves of fall and winter.
Crocus in the Vienna botanical garden.
A warm winter (second-warmest on record for Austria) led to an unusually early bloom of wildflowers, a sure sign that global warming is displacing the seasons. For me, that means greeting the first wildflowers of spring with mixed feelings. On one hand, long-term concerns about climate change are intensifying. Just this week, leading climate researchers published yet another doomsday study, projecting that, in a worst-case scenario, Planet Earth could see real trouble by the end of this century, with enough sea level rise to swamp major cities and potential superstorms in the Atlantic Ocean that would dwarf hurricanes like Irene and Katrina. On the other hand, it’s hard not to feel a little pang of joy when those first splotches of color start to appear in city gardens or country forests.
Best of 2015
Recapping some of our favorite winter scenes from the Colorado high country in this end of the year set …
A garden rose kissed by morning dew on a cool October morning.
Can’t help but think of the Crosby, Stills & Nash song, “Wooden Ships.”
A coneflower brightens up a rainy Austrian morning.
Field mushrooms in the Aistal of Upper Austria.
After a chilly and rainy spell in mid-October, Indian Summer made a comeback late in the month, except here in Austria, it’s called Altweiber Sommer (old women’s summer). In the lowlands of the Danube River Valley there still hasn’t been a killing frost, which means there are garden roses hanging on to brilliant summer hues, and in the fields, wild mushrooms still abound. I wonder if it will last into November?
Pray for grace
Fall flowers in the Mühlviertel of Austria, to be plowed under as soil enrichment.
Curtains of leaves.
Fall colors in Spittelberg, one of Vienna’s classic downtown neighborhoods.
Gold on silver near the Vienna Westbahnhof.
In my dream I walked with you, hand in hand, to the tree of life.
I sometimes see my photos in dreams, and also dreams in my photos. A couple of days ago, I visited the tree in the last picture in this set in my dreams, walking hand in hand and feeling a new radiant love. For some reason, I woke up with a prayer on my lips, not a traditional prayer but the following Michael Franti groove, of which I’ve posted an excerpt. Catch a great live version of the song here: https://www.michaelfranti.com/music/songs/pray-grace
“I take a moment to myself
So I can hear myself
To feel myself
And be real myself
Life’s addictions and afflictions
‘Cause abrasions from their friction
Sometimes it’s easier to live in fiction
I can run, but I can’t hide
From the pains that reside down deep inside
There is no pill that can be swallowed
There is no guru that can be followed
There’s no escapin’ from my own history
Those that I hurt and those that hurt me
I was dead for a million years ‘fore I was born and
I’ll be dead for a million more after I’m gone
So I live to give somethin’ that can live on
Like the way you hum a song when the music’s gone
Like the warmth of the sand when the sun goes down
And I’m sittin’ with myself, nobody else is around … “
Bursting forth …
An ant takes shelter from spring showers.
White violets growing along the Meadow Creek trail in Frisco, Colorado.
Spring birds face some challenges in the Colorado high country.
Tender spring green aspen leaves afrer a spring rain shower.
Catkin with droplet.
FRISCO —The Colorado high country is spectacular any time of year, but spring is my favorite season. It’s the time of year when you can still ski on the mountains, often in some of the best snow of the year. But down in the valleys, Mother Nature is busy building a new season. Since the mountain growing season is so short, spring comes in a hurry. Plants don’t have the luxury of taking their time if they want to bloom and produce flowers and seeds for reproduction, so everything seems to pop all at once with a fecundity that’s as astounding as it is reassuring.
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