The Deschutes is running full even though it is still winter. Unseasonably balmy weather has caused snow to melt in the high country, producing a high volume of water in rivulets and streams swelling the river below me. On either side of the trail, dry gritty soil hosts shades of green, a sign that wildflowers and grasses are anticipating the return of warmth. I am surprised to see a few butterflies and even a bee or two. I do not remember encountering these flying insects quite this early (mid-February as of this writing).

Nature is offering her liturgy of impermanence. It is a church service that never repeats in exactly the same way. This year the natural world is acting like it is spring more than a month ahead of our assumed schedule. Everywhere I look I see signs indicating the change of seasons. Birds already exhibit nesting behavior with amorous rituals and mating. The apricot globemallow in our garden reveals a few orange-tinted buds signaling an imminent bloom.

On the circle we call a year, seasons seem to be going through an unusual phase shift. While humans argue about climate change, the climate is changing anyway. I sometimes feel ashamed to be a member of a species that can be so arrogant. As Mark Twain observed, “The human is the only animal that blushes. Or needs to.” If we could embrace the law of impermanence maybe our cheeks wouldn’t be so red.