Around the middle of July, when the sidewalks sizzle and the sun scorches, I begin to fantasize about winter. Ah, the crisp, cold air! The pretty swirling snowflakes! The hot chocolate and baths and cozy evening fires!

It takes exactly one snowfall before my naiveté dissolves and memories of past winters rush in. From that moment on, I long for spring to come again.

In our area, hints of the changing seasons can appear as early as late January: bickering birds, a breeze whose arctic bite is more of a nibble, and — my favorite — the unfolding of flowers. This year the flowers held out on us, popping up well into February. Finally, a week ago the delicate creations below poked through our dry, winter-brown grass and opened up to the sun. While we’re not ready to break out the shorts and sandals, I’m already helping winter pack its bags and hinting that it should hit the road before rush hour clogs the interstate.

In the meantime, I’ve decided to enjoy whatever springly attributes this month has brought. And so on Saturday morning, the first bright, clear day since the crocuses’ appearance, I carted my camera and my new tripod (the latter courtesy of my brother and sis-in-law) into the yard and let loose. Recorded now for posterity – or at least the extent of this digital age – are this year’s first flowers. Click on the photos for larger renditions in more detail. Trust me; they look much better that way. ((If you like these, check out my photoblog, Playing with Pixels, at!))