By Phyllis S. Donovan
Last week, when we weren’t paying attention, all the lawns and fields around here have changed from their dull winter dried-up brown and are suddenly greening up again. That annual miracle of nature, to me, is the ultimate signal that spring is finally here to stay.
It’s not the only sign, of course. The pair of resilient swan, who spent their entire winter on Foster Lake on Research Parkway paddling to keep small pools of water from freezing over, have now built a nest in the reeds on the far side from the road. While the female has been sitting on the nest, her mate has been roaming the small lake on his own and, we hope, bringing tidbits of food to her while she is ensconced there for the immediate future.
Now the goldfinches who visit our deck feeders have changed, almost overnight, from their drab olive plumage to a brilliant yellow that contrasts nicely with their black heads and black and white wings. I’ve always said it’s like having a whole back yard full of canaries but better. These are free! They aren’t the only birds who have taken on more color for spring, even their cousins the quarrelsome and abundant house finches have grown rosier lately as males show off for their duller feathered females.
Our latest issue of “Birds and Blooms” magazine featured a gorgeous orange and black male oriole on its cover suggesting that halved oranges are especially favored by them to sip from. Of course, we haven’t seen an oriole since our neighborhood grew up and the bird habitat changed. But I hopefully put out the orange halves only to have them disappear that very night, probably carted off by one of our backyard critters who must have figured it was a treat for him.
Also, the squirrels who have been trying all winter to plunder our squirrel proof bird feeders, have more than just food on their minds. They are fun to watch every morning, chasing each other around in the back yard trees while I’m having my breakfast. If the males’ attention is diverted or starts to lag, those impudent girl squirrels turn around and start chasing them! It’s quite a game and I suppose soon we’ll have even more squirrels to contend with as a result.
Now, our yard is starting to perk up too. Besides the purple crocuses out front and the snowdrops at the foot of the deck stairs, our daffodils are in full bud and the hyacinths are already blooming, pink and purple, in the front flowerbed. Besides that, my huge star magnolia tree is due to blossom any day now as are our forsythia bushes.
Yes, I absolutely love everything about spring ... except for, perhaps, the stiff winds which seem to whip up out of nowhere every now and again. Most recently, I was getting into our car after a pleasant lunch out when a gust of wind caught my open car door and slammed it into my forehead. It gave me such a whack that a large welt rose up. When I got home, I immediately put ice on the spot and the lump did go down. But now I have a huge black and blue there. I’ve had to rearrange my hair to try to cover it up so people don’t think I’ve been in a fight.
I’m just happy that car door didn’t hit me in the eye area. It would be a good deal harder for a lady of my gentle temperament to explain a black eye.
Meanwhile, I shall continue marveling over the many ways spring has been announcing its presence and sending up a prayer that we don’t see any more snow until December. Yes, my French Canadian grandfather always said that a late spring snow was “a poor man’s fertilizer” but so far we’re doing very well without it, thank you.