Signs of Spring

Iris danfordiaeSpring creeps up gradually here in the northeast. The first signs are the lengthening days of February and the return of the ever cheerful robins. The robins usually show up the first or second week of February, singing “cheer up, cheer up” and chuckling in the evening.

Mr. Cardinal very noisily announces that he is a pretty bird every morning and evening. Calling for his mate…notice me, pick me.

Then the snows of late February and early March. Yes, they are signs of spring. Sugar snow, we call it here, for the sugar maples love the moisture on their feet. Blue sky days follow the snows. The sun is warmer.

The first baby plants arrive in the greenhouse. The bales of potting soil are opened and moistened. Pots and packs are filled. The tiny green beings are tucked in to the warm soil. The fragrance of moist potting soil and green plants fills us.

Don’t forget the fierce winds of March swirling and moaning, sweeping out the remains of winter. Sometimes blowing in another snowstorm. Reminding us that, yes, spring is coming our way but winter has not yet let go its hold.

Sap flows from the sugar maples. Sugar houses send up plumes of smoke. The annual ritual of making syrup begins. In the steamy fragrance of a sugar house you can feel winter melting out of your bones, your whole body expanding, relaxing. Ahh, maple syrup.

As I rake the winter debris from a south facing garden I uncover tiny green spears of crocus, daffodils and iris danfordiae, red-green shoots of tulips. Big, fat yellow buds of the crocus about to burst. Jewel-like chartreuse leaf buds decorate every tiny twig of the Spirea ‘Ogon’. The raking stirs the moist soil and releases its sweet aroma. There is nothing like that fragrance…alive, awakening earth.

This morning I find the first spears of Alchemilla poking above the soil. A wonder, really, how all these plants awaken and push up through that still very cold soil.

Spring moves slowly here. But it always arrives…a miracle of awakenings, of precious life.