Coffee and sunlight are the best ways to begin a morning. Two days ago I pulled up my window blinds and saw a powdered-sugar dusting of snow, with sullen little flakes drifting past like bits of volcanic ash. They were about as welcome as the belching of a volcano because tentative blossoms had begun to show up on plum trees and a haze of green was plainly visible on Beacon Hill. 

This city is famous for its tricks of spring. A couple of years ago I was thrilled to see crocus pushing their way into life, small purple buds holding promises of color and warmth. The next morning big feathers of snow fell for hours. The hushed stillness that came with the snow felt almost sacramental but I grieved for those crocuses. 

A week later the snow was gone and the crocus buds persisted and spread. Walking through my neighborhood took on the joyful cast of an Easter Egg hunt as I discovered bright little patches of purple and white in yards that were still covered with stunted pale winter grass. 

I live downtown now and the only crocuses I see are sold in plastic pots at a corner flower shop. But trees that stand beyond the canyons of high-rises are becoming clouds of (very) pale green and in one of Chinatown’s pocket parks, plum blossoms are asserting their right to life. I know it will be a while before I can abandon my winter coat and gloves but I’m crawling out of winter’s tunnel, along with the blossoms and the hint of fresh green leaves.

It’s only February, but the days are longer. Twilight no longer comes at 4:30–it’s still light at 5. I feel as though I’ve been released from prison. 

The sunlight that has the seagulls and ravens playing outside my window might well be gone in another hour. A rainstorm could blow in from the Sound or a blast of frozen air could make its way over the eastern mountains. The Puget Sound seasons hold no true promises.

But as much as I curse the persistent rain, the British chill, and the early darkness, without those things mornings like this one wouldn’t feel like little miracles. I know that’s true. When I lived in Bangkok, for most of the year sunlight was as ordinary as oatmeal. Here it’s a heaping bowl of caviar and I savor every last taste.

It would be a sin to waste it. The ravens know this and so do I.