Shade Fall

This spring has been heartbreakingly beautiful. Is it truly this stunning? Or is it outlined with the brush marks of difficulty that make all the tender green that much more breathtaking? I do believe our experiences are more than just what meets the eye; they are interwoven with everything invisible, too.

One of my favorite things about spring is something I haven’t noticed until the past ten years, but now I can’t ever miss it. It’s a fleeting moment in spring that defines the end of early spring and the beginning of middle spring. I think I began noticing it when I started seriously looking for morels. Walking slowly through the canopy staring at the ground which is still brown and dry, but dotted with sprouts and sprays of green–violets and garlic mustard–suddenly you realize there is a darkness over your sun-warmed shoulders. The shade has arrived.

The leaves are finally stretching their fingers out, holding the sun in their palm, catching the rays to make their food. To notice this moment somehow gives me a bittersweet feeling–happy for the leaves’ arrival but knowing that the golden green glow of new spring is over and the deeper green of summer is on its way. It’s interesting that shade comes when the sun shines stronger–we need that shade. And that in the winter, when the sun is weaker, it’s fitting the leaves are gone so we can get all the sun we can. You can’t have the light without the dark, they are one and the same, bound to each other.

I feel like there should be a word for this moment, a poetic term. And maybe a term for the stark cold light that shines when all the leaves fall in autumn. Other languages seem to have a more poetic streak than English does, for example the German maeinschein (which I must note, I’ve never seen it anywhere else but this tweet from Rob Macfarlane, perhaps he made it up, but still I love it). So I made up my own: shade fall. And in autumn? We can call that light spring.


Morel Season: They’re here! Have you ever looked at the Morel Map? It’s fun to watch unfold.

Have you noticed that spring is moving very quickly this year? The lily of the valley and the lilacs are already in bloom. That usually doesn’t happen until Mother’s Day for this area. And that means that morel season might also be over soon. It’s not just me, or this area, it’s a country-wide phenomenon that is due to climate change.


  1. Just beautiful as always. You guys are probably a week ahead of us in terms of leaves unfurling and things blooming but yes to all of it.

  2. I love your description of this time. I have thought of it as “the Bob Ross days” for a while now…when the mountains around me look like someone took a fat brush with just a liiiiiiittle paint on it and foof foof foofed shades of light green on them.

    I love the reference to Macfarlane’s word. And now I realize I probably heard of him here, well before picking up Underland. 🙂

    Dave is obsessed with the morel map!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s