|Tucked in a sheltered corner, the first snowdrops of the season!|
There is a change in the air as well. There are cold days, to be sure. Today's sleet forced me to bundle up when just a few days ago I had to shed hat and mittens and loosen the top button of my coat. It is such days tucked between the cold ones—the teasers—that are the first indicators of seasonal change. The great shift will occur when the teasers are the norm and the cold days come as a surprise.
There is a freshness to the air that belies the staleness of the snow. I can almost smell spring, the sweetness that comes of freshly plowed ground and of green and growing things. When the afternoon sun shines down on the south-facing snow banks, Robert Frost’s silver lizards wiggle down the slopes, countless little rivulets of melted snow making their way into oblivion. My nose, all my senses, know what’s coming.
So do the birds. The chickadees that come to the feeder slip into their two-note spring song now and then, as if practicing for April. High in the treetops the little finches that winter over sing to each other in the late afternoons. A few winter hardy robins venture out of the roadside brush to flit over the meadow, their orange undersides flashing brightly against the snow. The geese have just this week returned to fill the skies with their raucous vees and the red-winged blackbirds have come back to stake claims in the swamps. In just a few weeks the silent mornings will again give way to the joyful sounds of birdsong and evenings will be serenaded by spring peepers.
It is the season of bursting catkins, of the yellowing of willows and the reddening of dogwood withes. I know my garden perennials are beginning to stir deep down at their roots and I've just spotted the first snowdrops pushing up through the leaf mold. The maple trees give no visible sign that soon their sweet sap is rising but some are already decorated with collecting buckets. Seed and flower catalogs outnumber any other in my mailbox and those that sell clothing are introducing their summer lines.
The pastel season is approaching. The glaring white snow, the dull gray clouds, and the washed out blue of the sky will give way slowly to petal pink, to daffodil yellow, to that lovely, ineffable shade of new leaf green. The months of waiting for spring have turned to weeks and will turn to days soon now - soon.