Finally the sun has come out after days of gray rawness. And even though it has not been bitter cold, this is the time of year when our patience is tested—another threshold—the space between winter’s lingering moodiness and spring’s approaching spiritedness.

Books are my refuge, always, but especially now when many of us are yearning for a glimpse of other places and people, other worlds, real or imagined, yet we don’t want to leave the warmth of home (currently I am wrapped up in the world of Margaret Wise Brown by way of a new biography about this woman who wrote “Goodnight Moon” and I had forgotten that her “great green room” is such a lovely place to be with the fire burning and the mittens drying).

On Monday the winds were 30 miles an hour and the temperatures on the brink of freezing and there was rain, rain, rain. At the grocery store that day, the young man rounding up the carts looked at me and said: Are you all right? I must have looked cold and windblown and what else he saw, I do not know. Then today I looked up from my book and there was a bright red cardinal perched on the bare wintery branches of my neighbor’s lilac bush, and before I could round the corner to snap a picture, it was gone. I didn’t even see it fly away—it was that fleeting.

Still, picture or not, it was there, an early sign of spring in the offing, and it will be back and let’s hope that my head is out of the books (and the winter moodiness) long enough to see winter shadows turning into spring…