The Last Windrow: If you look, you'll see definite signs of spring
Humans who ventured south for the winter are thinking about the trip back north along with the geese and ducks.
The dogwood is beginning to turn red in the countryside. Can spring be far behind?
This is the time of year in the northern climes of the country when subtle signs of spring start to poke out of the snowdrifts. Those indications come slowly and go unnoticed by many of those who choose to spend their winters in the same place as they spend their summers.
They don't migrate to warmer weather but instead choose to stick it out through the cold weather months. That does not mean that folks at some point don't yearn for a warm breeze. In fact, any temp above zero is relished.
Residents of the north country enjoy watching the accumulated packed snow start to evaporate from their garage front apron from the sun's increased angle. At this point they have long forgotten the thrill of the first snow, when all seemed to be white perfection.
By now the handle on their snow shovel has broken, their snow thrower has developed a case of hiccups and their car has enough salt on it to allow an artist to paint an outdoor scene on the fenders.
In other words, they are about done with winter.
My wife and I were in that vein for a number of years when we decided to leave icicle land and we ventured to the southern boundaries of the States. We visited the theme parks in Florida, the coast line of Georgia, the party town of New Orleans and we ate crawdads in southern Louisiana. We toured the tourist traps of Branson and we ate hush puppies in Gatlinburg.
In other words, we did leave the tundra to breathe warmer air that hadn't yet arrived to our nostrils in a frozen state. The site of a groundhog actually munching on green grass above ground in Cade's Cove in late March was heartwarming.
Those trips were fun and we learned a lot about how other folks live where the frost doesn't descend to six feet deep. They live their lives pretty much without a thought that they might not make it to work due to heavy snow and ice on the roadways. They live in fear of hearing the weather person predict temps below freezing.
They cannot relate to those of us who buy snow tires, install engine block heaters and wear ear muffs six months out of the year. Snow day cancellations in schools are rare. They miss the excitement of not having to plan their day around the time the snowplow travels by their driveway and grants them freedom to the highway.
Up here where the tulips lie dormant below the snow, we do get a bit weary of winter, one must admit. Some call it cabin fever. It's the time of year when even a trip to the grocery store or gas station is looked on as an adventure.
Out of pure boredom we race cars on ice, drill holes in ice-covered lakes in search of a sunfish and develop games such as bocce ball on ice just to preserve our sanity.
But my wife smelled the aroma of the first skunk of the season just this morning. Somehow that skunk knows that spring is just around the corner.
New birds traveling from the south are arriving at the bird feeder. Deer are becoming more active and most have made it through the harshest part of the year. Owls are nesting and eagles are now sitting on eggs. Humans who ventured south for the winter are thinking about the trip back north along with the geese and ducks.
They're not there yet, but they are thinking about it.
And, the dogwood and willows are beginning to turn red in the still white countryside.
Just be patient. Spring is coming. We've almost made it through. Somehow I feel better just knowing that.
See you next time. Okay?