Signs of Spring

RNWR_red-winged_blackbird_01-06-09We have all had enough of winter.  By the way, the “winter from hell” is an oxymoron at best.  This winter is straight from our polar vortex, which we should not confuse with our solar plexus, and other such constellations.


I know for sure that Spring is coming.   It first teased us when we saw the high afternoon sun, glinting off a trickle of melted ice in the gutter by our driveway.   I know Spring is not far off because stepping out of a restaurant in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin this weekend, I caught a warm blush of west wind pushing through the parking lot.   IMG_6888And with it came the subtle, sweet bouquet of a farmer’s work recently done, spreading a fresh batch of manure on his field, maybe 4 or 5 miles away.

Driving along a backroad through the country there was a torrent of snowmelt running down the ditch beside us.  Two boys, not more than 10 years old, were in their boots, up to their ankles, coaxing a small plastic boat over a waterfall and into the next pool below.

That was yesterday.

Today I know that Spring is coming because of a flock of robins perched on every branch of our crab apple tree, plumped up in the 20-degree weather, breasts to the sun, squinting out across the yard, looking for anything edible as the snow recedes from the lawn.

And that lawn?   I haven’t seen it since Thanksgiving.   It is brown, and matted down, and I will have to get it aerated for sure.  Time to pull out that direct mail piece from Spring Green, and get my discount order in.

It is surely Spring because we bought two packs of flower seeds: morning glories and butterfly catchers.

Trellis.1Tomorrow I will head back to Lake Geneva and buy a trellis to frame up our clematis.   This vine is a robust flowering cornucopia, and has a couple hundred stems shooting out of the ground.   They are brown and dead right now, but like a true perennial it will sneak up on me one day, and explode with a hundred more shoots.  The trellis will be in place in time.   By July there will be a thousand purple and magenta flowers hanging off that ironwork.

I put a roof rack on the station wagon to bring home another trellis.   This will be a longer, wider one that supports the morning glories.   IMG_5792Last summer they burst into a flood of brilliant blues, purples and pinks, like a daily chorus of trumpets that attracted all manner of birds and bees to their place on the back fence.  This year will be even more spectacular with the new frame.

I know it’s Spring because I filed my Federal taxes.   You know, I love getting a refund.  taxes-412-274I never begrudge sending a printed return to some PO Box in California.  While e-filing may be more efficient, it also opens the door to audits.   My philosophy is to bury ’em in paper right off the bat.  So I did, with 1.38 pounds of it.  Enjoy the read!

Spring is coming because the trees sense it.   The maple across the road has a vague rust hue on its topmost branches.   The willows along the highway have brightened their cold branches to a warm yellow.

Most significant, a few hours ago I was standing on the deck out back, and overhead I heard a red-winged black bird trill out a call to the frozen marsh behind our house.    Even though the robins got together earlier, that may have been to vote in a new leader after the current one convinced them to stay all winter.

But when the black bird piped up, I knew Spring will be close behind.

Hope you are seeing the signs too!    Thanks for reading.  Be sociable, share below!


4 thoughts on “Signs of Spring

  1. Allan M Gross says:

    Enjoyed your trip from the cold, dreary, wet and depressing winter to the joys of the coming Spring. I feel terrible, well, almost terrible, that I didn’t have the same experience this winter in bright and sunny West Palm Beach where the sun is always out, the birds always chirping and the temperature always 80! Boring, boring, boring. Thanks for bringing me a little bit of my missed winter from afar and our forthcoming Spring. Regards, Allan.


  2. Allan: That makes me smile! I truly enjoy four seasons, and we got our money’s worth this year. I understand south FL got lambasted yesterday with extreme weather, so you get your own flavor of inclemency occasionally. We just returned from 3 weeks in Kauai. Golf, sun, seafood, pool swimming, photography and the occasional whale. Pretty darn good!


  3. Peter Mansell says:

    At some point, the height of the pile of snow next to my driveway was too high for me to ‘heft’ the shovelful over it. I took to slicing blocks and transferring them to the side lawn via the sidewalk. When all hope seemed lost, the City came along and took away the mound that had taken over the sidewalk and half the roadway. This was not a true sign of spring, but it was an indication that the City saw an end to massive falls of snow and could spend some removal budget on the wretched side street people. What a strange and uplifting feeling it was to see some of the snow gone. Not one flake had left us since November’s first snowfall and we were now into March.
    Of course, now, we’ve had a bit of a thaw. The birds and squirrels are getting picky about the suet balls we’ve put out, now that the branches of the crab apple tree are exposed (one half of this tree came down in an ice storm in January). The longer hours of sunlight are having their say in this scenario, in spite of the sub-zero temperatures that continue to grip us. I remember winters like this as a kid, but then for a kid, winters are endless, as are summers. And snowbanks are massive to any little tyke looking for a place to dig out a fort. There are movements of birds in my neighbourhood. They waited until the 10,000 or so university students wrecked havoc upon our streets during St. Paddy’s Day, then safely came out to conduct the business of making their summer nests.
    So yes, signs of spring have come to the streets around me. And by mid May, we hope to see and end to the snow, so the April flowers can have their chance.


  4. Hi Peter: At any point did you consider sawing the ice into 1-foot cubes and leaving them in the freezer until July? Perfect for the ice cream maker! Thanks for the slice of life in your frozen neck of the woods!


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