Spring is here, they tell me — and I’m collecting signs of it. I’m picking them up avidly this year. Outside the porch window someone is calling, the quick jiminy-jiminy-jiminy I think may be a Carolina wren, and another voice in a long two-tone whistle. Around the corner the mergansers are back, nose-down in the river.
The signs can seem slight right now. It’s early days yet. The new season’s taking wobbly steps, and I know why. Raw, muddy days give the trees time to wake up and the earliest buds time to open, protected in cool, wet air.
And I love it the way I love anticipation before a holiday. The change comes gradually, steadily, until you hear the first soaking rain on the roof after months of silent snow. And then one night the first peepers are calling in the marsh, and they’re an astonishment.
But this year I’m looking for every tentative movement. Maybe it’s the pandemic, the way we’re slowly coming out again, testing every step. Local events return in person, in very small groups. I finally get to see see my boss from a relatively new freelance gig without a mask. A cluster of yellow crocuses comes up by the foundation, and snowdrops shiver in the wind on an earth bank open to the southwest.
The sun is shifting too. I can pause at the end of the day and take a walk. Last evening I went up the Chestnut trail to the ’98 loop and stretched out on a quartzite boulder among the polypody. The fronds are green now, and the mosses, though ice still lingers in the hollows of the rock. And even when I miss the turn on the way home and wind up walking along the ridge toward Pine Cobble, the light lasts long enough to see me home.