Calendars are useful things but we all know they cannot schedule our emotions and they certainly cannot control nature. I know that the light and that indefinable smell have definitely got me thinking of spring even though the calendar tells us it is weeks away. And I’m not alone because all around nature is waking up and giving us clear signs that winter is indeed over. Oh I’m not so foolish as to think we won’t have another storm or two, but the worst is surely past. The old Rodgers and Hammerstein song does have it right: it might as well be spring!
Yesterday as I set out on my morning walk I heard my first sure sign of spring: the call of the Red-winged Blackbird. I was astonished but not altogether surprised. When I got home I consulted my notes from previous years and they told me that last year I first saw and heard them just a day later, while other years it could be a couple of weeks later. It certainly makes you wonder what the variables and criteria are.
On the same theme of birdsongs that tell us it’s spring, I was walking in Medd’s Mountain one day before it had really begun to thaw and I heard a robin singing. But so early? And with the rain beating on my umbrella it was difficult to really hear. But as I tuned in more closely I realized the song wasn’t quite right. And then I saw the clown: it was a Blue Jay mimicking a robin. And do you remember last winter many of us were amazed to see large flocks of robins wintering over? This winter has been quite different. I have seen only a single robin. Once again what are the variables?
One of the many things to keep your eyes open for is the earliest of spring-flowering bulbs. There is a house on Anne Street right across from the handsome Needler House that boasts a sheltered south-facing garden. It is there that I always look to spot the first of the flowers: the modest but charming snowdrops. They certainly raise my spirits! Last spring I ran into another keen walker in front of this garden and we both were admiring these tiny white treasures.
Spring is lovely after a long hard winter, but we all know the drawbacks too. The mud and the ice make walking messy and sometimes dangerous. This is extremely true right now. I would not advise walking the trails; the ice on Medd’s Mountain is truly treacherous. But that should still not stop us from getting out. There are lots of things to experience without the mess or danger of trails. And once again our own millpond provides much to enjoy, especially now with the construction in preparation for the new dam. I am writing this on the Saturday before publication and just this morning I saw that water was flowing through a new channel. Where the penstock had been removed there is now a stream. Soon I suppose the old dam will be blocked off.
And also on the pond the Canada Geese are already paired off and the males are courting the females with strange antics of elongated necks and ear-piercing honks.
For those of us always longing to see the unusual, a fellow walker told me about seeing a Bald Eagle as he walked the Baxter Creek Trail. That makes three sightings of this majestic raptor. Good luck spotting one!
It’s only the beginning of March but “it might as well be spring”. Get out! And enjoy!
Get Out by Glen Spurrell