We say spring begins March 21, but Levitan wants us to pay attention to the new season a good while before the birds return and the buds open.
Russian winters can last up to six months! Six frozen months of temperatures so low, sap can freeze causing a tree trunk to explode. Here, Levitan is sharing, with the melting of snow (which also means mud), spring is here.
The snow pile is shrinking on the roof of the little porch and has already fallen off the fir trees. The ice-encased birch branches have been freed. The horse is taking in the sun, waiting for his owner, whose footprints we can see going off into the woods through the slushy snow.
We all know a day like this: we go outside with fewer layers of clothes and just stand there, letting our bones soak up the strengthening sun. Even the little birdhouse up top in the birch tree seems to be taking in the sunlight!
Levitan is known as a Mood Landscape artist, because he is so good at capturing the atmosphere of a scene (the mood). I'm thinking, the Catholic Mass ends with the words, "Bow your heads and pray for God's blessing." OK, but there's also a time to lift up our heads to receive God's blessing. Levitan's first hint-of-spring days, all blue sky and disappearing snow, invites us to look up with grateful eyes.