by Ann Blakely
This past week has seen many changes that herald the march toward spring.
The chippies are out. The raccoons are out. The geese have come back according to our upriver neighbors plus they saw a robin and a redwing blackbird. The snow pack is shrinking rapidly, the river is rising, the roof is nearly bare and even though the temperature is currently only 28, it is bright and sunny, so the remaining roof and deck snow is continuing to melt. The deer yarded up here to be near open water have started moving off to their summer grounds. Now we are left with trails of deer poop and the ever-smelly turkey poop appearing out of the snow and thawing to cause a barnyard like fragrance wafting through our clearing when the wind is in the “right” direction. Otherwise the scent carried on the wind is that of coming spring. Not yet the earthy smell of the forest floor, but a promise of it.
As the snow melts from under the feeders, a winter’s worth of seed shells is exposed. Squirrels are digging through them for missed seeds. Yesterday there were four black squirrels and two red squirrels so engrossed in digging into one of the piles they were paying no attention to each other.
We are into that annual ritual of the college basketball tournaments. March 2005 was the first time Terry could watch every single game if he wanted to as he had retired the end of ’04 – and mostly he wanted to. He still does and in-between games and at half times, he goes outdoors and does chores or gets something to eat and then back to rooting for his favorites. I will watch a game here and there but life goes on for me during March Madness while basically it slows to a crawl for Terry. He has wireless headphones so even if he has to do something else – of mild importance - because nothing could be more important than the game – he can wear the headphones without missing any court action. Makes him happy and that is good enough for me.
As the snow melts I am anxious to see what if any damage has been done to the trunks of various shrubs. The last couple winters voles have gnawed extensively on several of them. Plus this winter the red squirrels ate so much bark off the big lilac by our bedroom window that some large branches fell off. Not a good thing. Terry says the lilac is very hardy – I hope he is right because it is badly scarred.
I can hear both goldfinches and chickadees singing right now. Such cheery little voices. Are they serenading the winding down of winter and the coming of spring – or maybe just the joy of a bright blue sky and the precious gift of life. Sounds like something we should serenade too.