This is a poignant season, the space between winter and spring, when the landscape appears dull but is not. Death is everywhere in the dry grays and browns of fallen leaves and bare branches, some broken from winter storms, and strawlike remnants of last season’s stems. But so is life, asserting itself with piercing intensity. Without any help from me, fierce little crocus plants push straight up through the leaves, tearing openings, and all at once their pale purple heads have arrived. This is when the gardener is a mere bystander—and happily so. Here are some of my sightings as I stood by.