I swapped out snowshoes for my bike Monday evening. The air was cold, and the ditches stretched frozen alongside the road. I pedaled in snowpants, winter jacket and wool socks. I wore thick leather mitts and a winter cap against the stiff west wind. I pedaled, despite the cold, despite the wind, to welcome in the spring.
The seasonal changes are coming more quickly now. The cold is interspersed with longer spells of warmth. The sun shines with greater strength offering true heat in sheltered areas. I carry binoculars around my neck to identify returning songbirds and waterfowl. I am alert to new activity, sounds and movements my mind has not considered across the long winter months.
I heard my first Sandhill crane Sunday afternoon. I heard it as I do each spring, overhead as a far off trill. I stopped to listen more closely, attempting to isolate it from the peripheral sounds, concentrating to determine what it might be from all it was not. Turning my gaze toward the trill, I scanned the sky and waited for the crane to appear.
My husband and I drove south to Rydell National Wildlife Refuge on Sunday. The sun shone brightly in the afternoon. Trumpeter swans and Canada geese shared open spaces on the ponds. Tundra swans congregated in dark fields. A pheasant sprinted past me in the tall grass breaking fast from its tangle of alder and willow. A nest perched shoulder height in a tree sat poised to accept the new season.
Sunday marked the vernal equinox. The calendar marches forward. In the south woodlot a cream can long-buried by winter’s snow now stands in bold contrast to the changing landscape. “Let me tell you a story,” it seems to say. “Let me tell you a story of new beginnings.”
“Tell me your story,” I agree. “Tell me.”