Wednesday, March 12, 2014

The Coming Spring

            What a glorious day. It’s 54° and climbing, the sun is warm and bright, the clouds low lateral swaths in a cobalt sky. And the birds are back. All morning a flurry of cedar waxwings alight on the bony branches of a choke cherry tree in the back yard. With their tufted crests, signature black eye bars, and plump buff breasts, they lazily preen their feathers and peck away at the fragrant bark. They flutter off for a while, only to return and perch again, basking in the warming sun. The robins have been back a few weeks now, and the chickadees, though many of those tiny wonders have wintered over, eking out what spare feed they could find in that harsh season that is fading now.
            Suddenly the yard is a flurry of commotion as whole flocks of birds cut through the air like a meteor shower. Then a few break off from the pack, darting to and fro in search, perhaps of incipient seeds or of nesting spots. Their shadows streak black ribbons across the snow that still swaddles the yard in a foot-deep blanket.
            I had spread some crumbs of seeded rye bread out on the deck this morning as a welcoming treat, but so far, my hospitality has gone unappreciated and my offering sits there like an unwanted gift. Some waxwings and a robin perch nearby for a closer look, but the chickadees—usually so curious—have given it no heed. Hours later there are still no takers. “Maybe they’re just not hungry,” my wife offers. I nod in agreement but wonder too if the crumbs were just not to their liking, or perhaps not stale enough for their taste. No bother, really, as the blue jays and the squirrels will discover them by late afternoon.                                                                                                                        
          It is now mere days until the vernal equinox, but I’m reminded that we cannot rush the spring, try as we might after this year’s “winter of our discontent.” We’ll have more melt-off today and then some days of rain will follow. We may even see a dusting of snow yet again. But every day we see more of the driveway emerge from ‘neath its fringes of snow and ice. The yew bushes and privet hedges spring back into shape and patches of earth reappear where we knew they were hiding under a cover of snow. No, we cannot hurry the spring, but the winter now is receding with the snows, and the welcome sighting of the birds is a harbinger of warmer days to come.

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