Well, apparently the ground hog saw his shadow on Ground Hog’s Day. Old News. Good for him, he probably went back underground curled up and will sleep through the remaining six weeks of winter. I don’t get to do that.
However, on Ground Hog’s Day, I was greeted in the early morning by the twitters, chirps and calls of small birds. Then I looked up later and saw a large flock of geese heading south.
So, I am confused. Do the geese know something we don’t, and they’ve decided head further south because the wobbly polar vortex is totally out of spin an is just going to flop down on the central US like a spinning top that has lost its momentum?
Or do the small birds that make their nests in the grocery store signs know something—that spring is really around the corner and the ground hog is wrong?
As a biologist, I have learned to pay attention to the subtle clues that the seasons are changing: the changing behavior of animals, the appearance of indicator species like certain birds and amphibians, the gradual lengthening of the day, the changing position of the sun on the horizon. All of those things are clues that one season is losing its grip on the world, and a new one is about to take over. The ground hog is not one of the clues I have been taught to pay much attention to.
And change is happening. The always silent winter mornings have been replaced by mornings gradually filling with more and more chatter from unseen birds. I leave for work in day light, and I now return at the end of the day to a sun that has not yet sunk below the horizon. The waterfowl are on the move. Things are changing.
It has been a long, cold winter. The cold started early in November and has been brutal. We have more snow accumulated alongside our driveway than I have seen in several years. I can’t remember the last day our predicted high was above freezing. I went outside on Sunday in 19 degree temperatures with nothing but a sweatshirt—and I wasn’t cold for the very short time I was outdoors. I am afraid this Georgia girl is becoming acclimated to the upper Midwest. It has only taken 20 years.
Soon our mornings will be filled with more bird song. The cardinals will start to show themselves and sing their cheery “what cheer”. Red-winged black birds will show up to stake out some territory, and one day, late in February or maybe in March, we will see our first robin of spring.
All will be better. The sun will continue to have more hours to warm the air each day; 40 degrees will begin to feel chilly instead of balmy; and we might even be able to find it in our hearts to forgive the groundhog. Maybe.
Or maybe not.
© 2014 Michele Arduengo. All rights reserved.