One swallow does not make a summer, but one skein of geese, cleaving the murk of March thaw, is the Spring.
Grandfather Winter just doesn’t seem ready to let go yet. His icy fingers grip to the iced over ponds and the pockets of snow as if he was a ruler of the land for all eternity. Sometimes, it felt as if his power over the rolling Berkshire hills was never ending, especially as snow blanketed the cabins and trees halfway through April and the islands of ice graced Rudd Pond until just the other day. Even though he is strong, Winter is losing his fight.
Spring fought back hard and fast. I first noticed it when walking across the frozen lake one March evening. As the last rays of light dipped below the tree line, the lake began speaking in loud, groaning tones. It was ready to breathe again. Pretty soon after, the birds began to come back. While the constant two tone call of the chickadee and the squawk of the raven have been with us through the cold, the friendly “Peter-Peter-Peter” of the Tufted Titmouse and the tail bobbing of the Pewee are new sites in the last few weeks. It really hit home when I was walking along the road to Smith Pond and I heard the familiar honk that had been quiet through the winter freeze. As I look up, slow wing beats mark two geese flying with purpose over the frozen lake. Seeing their potential resting ground solid, they flew on looking for open water. They couldn’t turn back. For them, egg season will soon be here and they need to return to their home breeding grounds, fight for their traditional territory and raise a brood away from the sneaking eyes of foxes, weasels and raccoons. While some people mark the first day of spring as March 20th, the flight of these birds across the grey blue sky makes spring a reality.
Of course, spring isn’t limited to just the birds. Neighborhood raccoons have ended their winter sleep and for a while groggily made their way through camps, looking to stretch their legs and get some food after months of only the walls of a rotten tree trunk to keep them comfortable. Spring peepers, the tiny denizens of the vernal pools and surrounding hardwood forest, have brought their song back for its yearly debut. Their play list is the same year after year, but one can’t help but roll down the windows and listen as the music fills the night air. The wood frogs too have made themselves known. While their song doesn’t have the same magic as the Spring Peeper’s, they come out in force on rainy nights looking for just the right vernal pool to place their eggs. Even full of eggs, its amazing how far and high they jump. The buds on the trees are coming out to meet the warmer weather too. The red maple is in full (but tiny) flower and some around here wish that it wouldn’t use the wind to send its pollen every which way. Seriously, can’t they use bees or just not have pollen at all? Oh well, nature doesn’t do what we want it to and without that pollen we wouldn’t have the spectacular displays of foliage that make the Berkshires come alive in the fall.
As we are gearing up for a busy summer, it’s nice to take the time to see the age-old battle between winter’s cold and spring’s persistent and inevitable victory. This is one fight that never gets old.