DST…and the sap keeps running

12 03 2012

Spring ahead! Just the words bring a quickening of the heart and spirit. But please explain to me how my cats have already adjusted their internal clocks and are yowling at the new 6AM for their breakfast.

Spring, rebirth, growth. I’ve seen crocuses and daffodils, pussy willows, and green shoots. And my friend Barb is tapping her sugar maples. These cold nights and warm days have been perfect for getting the sap running. Buckets are overflowing and the holding vat is brimming.

Now for the boil, boil, boil. Barb sends me home with a taste of the end result. I love maple syrup, always springing for the real stuff. I can’t wait for tomorrow morning’s waffles. I dip my finger into the amber liquid and taste. An exquisite shock runs through my mouth as the intensity of maple registers along all my nerves and synapses to my taste center. I remember maple sugar candies, shaped into leaves that I had as a child. Now, I’m spoiled. Even the real stuff isn’t good enough anymore. Oh, dear. Oh, yay. Life is good. Spring is here.





Spring, Spring, Beautiful Spring

5 03 2012

Spring, spring, beautiful spring.

When all the birds are on the wing.

Isn’t that the silliest thing you’ve ever heard?

I thought the wing was on the bird!

That little ditty appealed to my early grade school sensibilities when I learned it. But each year, unbidden, it rises to my consciousness when the days start getting longer. Signs are everywhere: green tips are pushing from the earth, cats are shedding, my nails are growing faster. But nothing says spring more clearly to me than the trill of the red-winged blackbird.

Although it happens annually, it’s always a surprise when that first “chip, chip” registers in my dormant winter brain. I keep walking past the cattails until I finally am aware, stop myself and say, “They’re here, it’s spring!” while their red epaulettes flash in the sun.

Many years ago, I had a cat, Tee, who camped with me. Tailless, she would arch her back when petted to the point that we would tell her to hump and nicknamed her the humper-doodle. On one trip, we were on the edge of a marsh and the blackbirds kept up a steady stream of their calling. “Listen, Tee, they are calling you! Hump-hump-er-doodle.”

Now, each spring, when I hear that raucous call of the blackbird, I am transported to those days and that cat and it makes me smile. I’m sure, for others, it’s a different cue. What is it that says springs loud and clear to you?





Mourning doves

23 02 2012
Photo: K. Hammerson

Ooh-ah-coo-coo-coo! It’s spring. Well, at least the mourning doves are at it, with males defending territories and enticing their lifelong partner for a little fun. Since they eat primarily seeds and feed their young pigeon milk and predigested matter, they can get an early start.
Certainly our mild winter give them an edge, too. Today it’s in the fifties, sunny, and almost balmy. The mail carrier was covering her route in short-sleeves.
By no means do I think I have enough clout in the world to make much of an impact, but I did my part to bring about this unseasonable winter. I bought several snow shovels, as mine had been hammered into oblivion during last winter’s barrage. And, for the first time in decades, I did NOT hang my snow banner. For as long as I can remember, I have ceremoniously replaced my summer flags with one large blue one, filled with large white snowflakes. This year, I rebelled, as just the sight of it made my shoulders ache.
Perhaps it helped! Spring: I’m ready for ya! Bring it on.




Surprise Guest

4 02 2012

It was Groundhog Day and I was filled with hope that winter might be over. Looking out the kitchen window as I washed my breakfast dishes, I glimpsed a black cat beyond the compost near the creek. I confirmed mine was inside and wondered if it was the stray black and white cat that had been MIA for a month or so.

Grabbing my binoculars, I started to focus on what became a moving target. Initially, its back was towards me and then it turned to cross my backyard, go up my driveway, across the street, and up my neighbor’s drive into her back ten acres.

All the while, my brain kept registering small bits of information. It was more of a brownish black with no other colors. Its fur was very lustrous, with a full, thick tail that curled up a tiny bit at the end. Its little face looked more like a teddy bear. It was the movement—front feet together, followed by the back—more of a lope that finally brought identification. A fisher!

I watched the beautiful animal with awe, simultaneously grateful that both cats were in the house. Suddenly, it didn’t matter much more whether it would be winter or spring today. It would just be.