Secret symphony

Published 9:26 am Wednesday, April 13, 2011

It starts with the martin. A single purple martin.

He drops through the clouds, glides to a lofty perch and looks around. He observes the sky, the land, the position of the sun, the direction of the wind. With squinted eyes, he peers east, then far into the west, raises his beak slightly in the air and comes to his conclusion.

Leaning into the wind, he spreads his wings, raises his legs and takes off. Flying just above a dogwood tree, he swoops low and whispers with his wings, “It is time.”

The dogwood tingles. Her sap starts to rise and her roots uncurl. With a great inward surge, she heaves outward, the pressure such that a bloom burst out. Then another. Then another.

One touches the limb of an oak tree and says, “It is time.”

The oak caresses a maple and says, “It is time.”

The maple strokes a hickory and says, “It is time.”

A chorus, like a wildfire fueled by the wind, rushes through the forest, building as it goes, touching all in its path. Fescue rises, buttercups burst, dandelions unfold. Low voices, high voices, giddy voices, sweeping along, prompting each other, the excitement reaching a crescendo as colors explode forth.

It reaches a poplar alongside a house in which resides a farmer, asleep in his bed.

The wind bends the poplar over, and its limbs scrape the bedroom window. They whisper — as only limbs can — “It is time.”

The farmer does not wake. But he stirs. His heart quickens, his breathing increases, his blood surges.

His wife, awakened, senses a difference in the room. The air has become lighter, cleaner, purer.

The morning light finds the farmer at the threshold, testing the air, rubbing the soil with his boot, staring at his unplanted fields.

He walks over to his bride, plants a kiss on her cheek and whispers in her ear, “It is time.”

But it all started with the Martin.

Rex Alphin is a farmer, businessman and contributing columnist for The Tidewater News. His email address is