Spring has arrived at Roundtop, though I wonder if the birds and spring peepers are pushing the season just a tad too much. The nighttime temperatures are in the low- to mid-20’s. The daytime temperature barely hits 40, and the northwest wind is brutal.
Despite that, I have killdeer and robins looking for breakfast in the same wet spot. Of course, it’s the only wet spot that wasn’t ice-covered this morning, so that has something to do with it. But still, yesterday, spring peepers were peeping at noon. I saw the first northern flickers of the season; in fact, I even saw three. The year-round residents are singing like crazy, so the woods are full of cardinals, Carolina wren, titmice and more, all singing away. Woodpeckers are starting to drum territory. All of this tells me it’s spring, no matter what the temperature is.
This weekend, Dog and I walked down the mountain for a ways. We couldn’t go as far as I hoped, as the lower we went, the muddier it got. Still, it’s the first time in a while that we’ve been out when the ground wasn’t covered by snow or ice. That alone made the walk interesting. It’s a little like visiting some place new. The mountain is so different from one season to the next that when a new season takes hold, especially when the season takes hold abruptly, it almost doesn’t seem like the same place I was in yesterday. After three months of snow and ice, bare ground is quite the novelty.
Dog and I walked over to the new pond, where we watched a small flock of probably the resident Canada geese call in a small flock of probably migrant geese. The resident geese heard the sounds of the other geese at least a full minute before I did. The locals were soon honking like crazy, and it wasn’t long before I spotted another flock of 30 or so geese just over the trees. The new geese acted as though they weren’t sure they wanted to set down. The once-perfectly v’eed group first fell into disarray, and instead of a "v" they became a clump of geese. They circled the pond, stalled overhead as some tentatively lost a few feet of altitude, while others flapped and moved a few feet to the north. They circled again. Finally, they set their wings and dropped slowly onto the pond, next to the first group, all of them honking in greeting.
It’s still only very early spring, of course. Winter may well have some more punch to it, even deep into April. But the season is changing. Already I am thinking of this time as early spring instead of late winter. I find I enjoy the visible signs of seasonal change more than I like the depths of any one season. The cycle of change is deeply reassuring to me, on some primal level that I can’t fully explain. Life goes on. Seasons change. Maybe it really is as simply as that.