On a quest for the first signs of spring

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.

Yellow crocuses show a hint of color in early spring.
Photo by Kate Abbott

Yellow crocuses show a hint of color in early spring.

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.

Snowdrops open on a spring afternoon, even before the frosts end.
Photo by Kate Abbott

Snowdrops open on a spring afternoon, even before the frosts end.

By the Way Berkshires is a digital magazine exploring creative life and community — art and performance, food and the outdoors — and I’m writing it for you, with local voices, because I’ve gotten to know this rich part of the world as a writer and journalist, and I want to share it with you.

If you’d like to see the website grow, you can join me for a few dollars a month, enough for a cup of coffee and a cider doughnut. Members get access to extra stories and multimedia, itineraries a bookmark tool. Let me know what you're looking for, and we’ll explore together.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.