Tuesday, March 25, 2008


I feel spring.

It's not just that the days are longer and a little warmer. There's more to it that tells me spring has come.

One sure sign that spring has arrived is that the robins have returned. I saw them for the first time more than a week ago hopping in a yard while I was running. A day or so later, I saw three of them hopping on the College Green at Brown. Privileged birds. A day or so after that, I saw one perched high in a tree, chortling away.

Another sure sign that spring has arrived comes from the trees. In the winter, trees hibernate. They are naked, skeletal, exposed. They've pulled the bare essentials inward, as if they're hunkered against the cold. Sometimes I think they're embarrassed to be set so starkly against the weak, pale winter sky. But the spring is their time to shine. The buds pop out, the first threads on a new wardrobe they will exhibit for all to see.

In our garden and others, the first shoots have burst through the soil. They yearn for the light, as if they were stretching after a long nap. They spread and thicken and become more active, sucking up the sunlight and the nutrients in the soil. Hungry, always hungry for more.

Soon, the mating will begin for flora and fauna alike. Salamanders will search for vernal ponds. Birds will mate and build nests. Plants will send spores into the wind.

I will begin sneezing.

But not quite yet. Winter is still hanging on. The juncos in our backyard have yet to leave. Perhaps they are reluctant to leave the daily buffet of bread crumbs, bird seed and occasional cookie crumbs left for them along the fence line. Or perhaps it hasn't gotten warm enough yet. Or perhaps there is some other signal they're waiting for to fly northward. True snowbirds, these ones.

It's still cold here in the morning. Cold enough to see your breath. Cold enough to cause a tingle in your throat when you take in your first breath of the morning. Cold enough that the ground has little give, no spring on the surface. Cold enough to merit a scarf, a ski cap and mittens. Cold enough that it feels better to be indoors rather than outside.

But the seasons, they are a changin'. Very, very soon.

Welcome, spring. It's good to see you again.

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