March 2012


Cherry and I hiked Cockaponset last week. Check out the BlogImage

Spring ahead! Just the words bring a quickening of the heart and spirit. But please explain to me how my cats have already adjusted their internal clocks and are yowling at the new 6AM for their breakfast.

Spring, rebirth, growth. I’ve seen crocuses and daffodils, pussy willows, and green shoots. And my friend Barb is tapping her sugar maples. These cold nights and warm days have been perfect for getting the sap running. Buckets are overflowing and the holding vat is brimming.

Now for the boil, boil, boil. Barb sends me home with a taste of the end result. I love maple syrup, always springing for the real stuff. I can’t wait for tomorrow morning’s waffles. I dip my finger into the amber liquid and taste. An exquisite shock runs through my mouth as the intensity of maple registers along all my nerves and synapses to my taste center. I remember maple sugar candies, shaped into leaves that I had as a child. Now, I’m spoiled. Even the real stuff isn’t good enough anymore. Oh, dear. Oh, yay. Life is good. Spring is here.

Spring, spring, beautiful spring.

When all the birds are on the wing.

Isn’t that the silliest thing you’ve ever heard?

I thought the wing was on the bird!

That little ditty appealed to my early grade school sensibilities when I learned it. But each year, unbidden, it rises to my consciousness when the days start getting longer. Signs are everywhere: green tips are pushing from the earth, cats are shedding, my nails are growing faster. But nothing says spring more clearly to me than the trill of the red-winged blackbird.

Although it happens annually, it’s always a surprise when that first “chip, chip” registers in my dormant winter brain. I keep walking past the cattails until I finally am aware, stop myself and say, “They’re here, it’s spring!” while their red epaulettes flash in the sun.

Many years ago, I had a cat, Tee, who camped with me. Tailless, she would arch her back when petted to the point that we would tell her to hump and nicknamed her the humper-doodle. On one trip, we were on the edge of a marsh and the blackbirds kept up a steady stream of their calling. “Listen, Tee, they are calling you! Hump-hump-er-doodle.”

Now, each spring, when I hear that raucous call of the blackbird, I am transported to those days and that cat and it makes me smile. I’m sure, for others, it’s a different cue. What is it that says springs loud and clear to you?