Normally Midwest winter-to-spring transitions are subtle events, with gradually warming days, slowly melting snow retreating to brown grass and mud puddles, and the return of one new species of animal, plant and insect at a time.
There was nothing subtle about Saturday. It was like the southern Springs of my childhood, when one day you woke up, and Spring had just happened.
I walked outside Saturday morning and the chatter of birds was amazing. I didn’t hear the chatter of only one species—the distant honk of a Canada goose on one day, the “what cheer” of a cardinal on the next. No, I heard the throaty trill of the red-winged black bird, chirps of finches, chicka-dee-dee-dees, high-pitched panics of killdeer, honks of gaggles of geese all at once. It was as if Spring itself had decided: Enough! Enough of winter. Enough of ground hogs who don’t know their business.
Unlike springtime in the south, the earth here isn’t painted with yellow pollen or flower blossoms, but the tips of the tree branches are beginning to swell as the leaf buds develop. Color has returned to the apical ends of the branches of shrubs, and no doubt the thistles in the yard will be greening soon.
I drove my daughter to her swimming lesson on Saturday, and it was a beautiful drive. The sun shone. The sky was blue and filled with all sorts of migrating water fowl: geese, herons and even what I am pretty sure were migrating swans. Red-winged blackbirds lined the roadside, evenly spaced as courtiers lining a parade route announcing the coming of an important person—Spring. Hoards of unidentifiable (to me) little black birds flew in swarms back and forth across the roads and open fields over the melting snow, seemingly joyous in the sunny warm day.
Even the parents and little ones weren’t hurried as they traversed the parking lot from car to swimming pool. People looked up, no longer needing to keep heads bent down, obscured by the hoods of their parkas as they watched cautiously for the spot of ice that would send them spinning on their backsides if they weren’t careful.
Yes, I know it snowed on Sunday. However, after the snow, four red-breasted robins came bob, bob bobbin’ along, hunting for worms in my backyard. Frankly, I would have gone and dug up worms for them myself had they asked me to, I was so delighted to see them. When robins are singing and active, spring has, indeed, sprung.
It would seem that March has gone mad. Mad with spring, mad with glee at the downfall of Old Man Winter. Mad as a March hare whose NCAA brackets, well, are a bit mad themselves (We are Marquette! It’s been sweet so far, and we’re rooting for you—with every bit the enthusiasm as we root for robins).
Happy Spring. It’s been a long time coming this year. Whew.
© 2013 Michele Arduengo. All rights reserved.