In Our Own Backyard...Can spring be far behind?
We had a web chat with one of our daughters on the East Coast recently, and the conversation inevitably came around to talk of the weather. When we told her we still had a foot of snow in the woods, with temperatures in the 20s, she glibly report...
We had a web chat with one of our daughters on the East Coast recently, and the conversation inevitably came around to talk of the weather. When we told her we still had a foot of snow in the woods, with temperatures in the 20s, she glibly reported the snow in their yard was completely gone and the temperatures were in the 40s! In fact, she said just the other day she and our 5-year-old granddaughter, Madeline, sat down and wrote up a list of all of the signs of spring they could find.
I thought of that the following morning when the temperature was three degrees below zero as I went out to get the morning paper. I zipped up the collar of my jacket a little tighter, put up my hood and forged out into the cold. On my way back to the house, I set foot on the front deck and the frozen wood uttered a sharp "crack!" underfoot as it contracted in the cold. I shivered at the thought of it.
But right in the midst of that relapse into winter, I heard a nearby chickadee utter its "spring song." Instead of the "chickadee-dee-dee" sound it makes in winter, when the courtship season begins in early spring, the spunky little bird switches over to a sound more like, "DEE-dee, DEE-dee" (or, as Carlton naturalist Larry Weber prefers to interpret it, "SWEE-ty! SWEE-ty!").
It made me smile to think that tiny bird had so much faith that the spring would come, so I decided I was going to come up with my own list of signs of spring, despite the fact that the snow still lay deep on the ground....
I know spring is on its way when I start seeing last year's fawns gallivanting around the woods and hovering uncertainly along the roadsides, on their own for the first time since their mothers abandoned them in order to give birth to this year's young.
Spring is on its way when the road salt has formed a permanent line of demarcation around my winter boots - and when I go to the store to buy new ones, all I can find are flip flops.
Spring is on its way when the lines at the local carwash are longer than the lines at McDonalds' drive-through at lunchtime - and I realize the last time I washed my car was the week before Thanksgiving.
Spring is on its way when the cats, fuzzy as wooly-bear caterpillars in their thick winter coats, sprawl in the sunshine coming through the kitchen window, eyes heavy with sleep and the tips of their tails twitching in contentment.
Spring is on its way when I go for a ski across the lake on a Sunday afternoon - and my husband goes for a 17-mile bike ride.
Spring is on its way when I see the cars in front of me driving in a wild zigzagging pattern along Highway 33 - and know full well it's because of the potholes.
Spring is on its way when I spot crows and an occasional eagle vying almost comically for the remains of dead deer along the ditches whose carcasses have been uncovered by the melting snow.
Spring is on its way when I see Judge Robert Macaulay riding his bike home from the courthouse once again (can Dr. Vicki Anderson be far behind?).
Spring is on its way when I can walk on top of the snow for four or five steps as I hike through the woods - and then crash through on the sixth.
Spring is on its way when the displays in the women's clothing stores start sporting bikinis - at precisely the same time I weigh more -- and look whiter -- than I have all winter.
Spring is on its way when the pile of cast-off sunflower seeds under my bird feeder is enough to sustain a sizable deer herd.
Spring is on its way when the chicks come in at L & M Supply.
Spring is on its way when we're awakened by a faint glow in the east at 6 a.m., and the sun is still gilding the treetops when the 6 o'clock news comes on.
And spring is most certainly on its way when the "Closed for the Season" sign outside Gordy's Hi Hat changes overnight to "Gordy's feeling March Madness!"
My mood felt greatly elevated as I lingered over my mental list of signs of spring. I just knew that with the longer hours of daylight, the shrinking snowdrifts, the chorus of birdsong, and the increasingly dry roads, spring has to be just around the corner. That is, up until the weather forecasters issued the winter storm warning on Monday -- just as we were about to leave for Arizona!