All the leaves are brown, and the sky is grey (“California Dreamin’,” Mamas and Papas).

This musical phrase keeps popping up in my head over and over again these days. It’s the dead of winter and nature appears to have fallen on hard times. Indeed, death is everywhere, at least for plants; all the annual species now lay rotting at our feet. Animals stay hunkered down and appear to have made themselves scarce. Fewer people are visiting the park. It is indeed grey, wet and dreary. Splendid if you’re a duck.

Did anyone get the license plate number of that planetoid that whacked Earth five billion years ago? The silly little 23-degree tilt it left us with has made a big difference to what happens here.  The whole history of life on this planet has never been without having to accommodate this structural irregularity. But it has adapted to it handsomely.

Its remarkable to contemplate, from today’s perspective, the contrast this weather has with the other distinct parts of a year – spring’s wild burst of life and greenery, summer’s heat, humidity and parched dry spells, fall’s refreshing winds and color. For now, the weather is about as winter-like as it gets in south Louisiana – cold and relentlessly cloudy and wet. I suppose it has its own beauty but that’s mostly hard to see from inside the house.

Though we are almost a month away from when spring commences, there are yet signs. Clover is coming up everywhere. I saw the first spreading, green thorny leaves of a couple of thistles yesterday. Birds continue to flit from tree to tree, staying limbered up for spring’s sing-along I guess. I know buds will pop, the first green leaves will emerge from the muddy swamp floor, March winds will blow and the sun will shine. It was ever thus, Gus.