Last week I wrote Spring Ahead but I actually gave spring very short shrift and my fantasies went right to full blown summer. Yet even in spring we do begin to stir from our toasty nests and travel forth to complete our spring rituals. We may have to forego our lighter-weight clothing and our cute footwear in order to sally out and about without freezing, but there are things to do.
Our favorite spring events involve issuing “hellos” and “good-byes” to winter guests and spring arrivals. We hang our cameras and our binoculars around our necks and go to say “hello” to the migrating birds returning to the North Country. The Montezuma Wildlife Refuge is one of our favorite places and we journey here again in the fall to say “good-bye” to migratory birds leaving to fly south.
We go to Derby Hill in April to say “hello” to the hawks who gather there on the shores of Lake Ontario because wind directions favor this spot. We often still go bundled in puffy winter coats and water-proof boots with hats and gloves handy in case the wind is sharp. We return home with sore necks from looking up with our heads bent back so our eyes can scan the skies for sightings which may be only specks without a zoom lens or two. We listen to those experts (or fakers) around us who say they can distinguish one hawk species from another and who are happy to explain how they made their determination. We may doubt their veracity but when we are asked to list the kinds of hawks we saw, they are our anonymous sources.
We find a wildflower walk and we go to say “hello” to the tiny, delicate wildflowers emerging shyly in sunny meadows and shady forests. It is best to find a wildflower walk that is lead by an experienced guide because it is surprisingly difficult to locate these dainty plants. Tuning in to something so lovely and evanescent is a form of meditation that tunes us into the micro-cosmos and tunes out the noise of our technological age. It connects us to our ancestors who enjoyed a good walk and could identify the species that shared their outdoor environment.
Sometimes, on a warm spring day we may go to the Tug Hill Plateau in the North Country in the foothills of the Adirondacks and strap on our cross country skis and take to the trails in one of the few places where snow remains that is ski-able. Often only a light jacket may suffice if you don’t stay too late and if the sun is not intermittent. This trip is about saying “good-bye” to winter, which for some hardy people has not been a time to hibernate but a time to glide through the snowy woods amid the silence of softy falling snow.
Some springs are too rainy for these pleasures, or all of the sunny days fall during the week when working people cannot indulge. Some springs find us still so deep in snow that migrating birds arrive before we can easily get out to see them and the wildflowers must wait or bloom under the snow and perish. This does not look like it will be one of those springs. It looks like our spring will arrive in a timely fashion and perhaps even bring us some blue skies to dispel the grays of winter. Am I tempting a spring blizzard? Maybe. I just can’t help myself. So don’t forget to say “hello” to spring.
We are at the edge of spring. There is still snow on the ground; there are no buds on the trees; and the landscape still has that wintry white and gray and brown thing going on, but my spirits are lifting; the daily temperatures are rising; and I think sap is beginning to flow through my trees and me. Spring does not usually come early in these latitudes and April here often is “the cruelest month” so this early anticipation of spring is a sort of slow tease by Nature with lots of days that veer back into winter. However we’re awake now, and we can’t get our comforting winter torpor back. We’re sort of all dressed up with no place to go.
I look at my garden in its sleeping state and I imagine it slowly adjusting to days spent above freezing, to the arrival of the occasional sunny day. I hope that this year my garden will not be teased into premature blooms only to have those blooms killed by a late bout of below zero temperatures. (like last year) I am already planning what backyard projects I want to tackle this summer. I am mentally getting my lawn mower ready for its first bite.
In my backyard, some creative pruner, trimming out a sucker tree, left me this leaping bunny. My bunny is now visible above the snow line and he (or she) does cheer me up whenever I look at my yard, which is only, so far, waking up invisibly. In my mind I sketch in the green lawn and populate the branches of my trees with lovely leaves and I place my wicker love seat out in the dappled shade under those trees, with a plump cushion where I can sit and read and watch my garden grow. It’s coming soon to a neighborhood near you. Spring ahead.