Signs of Spring

At last, Spring is here. Every day brings some new indicator of the turning of the seasons.


The spring bulbs have been eagerly pushing up through the leafy mulch. Snowdrops are past their prime now, as are the early crocuses.  The tiny blue scilla and the late crocuses are emerging and the first daffodil is beginning to unfold.



Our low-lying yard has its seasonal “water feature” after the heavy rains last week.  It is always interesting to note how much longer “Lake Eames” sticks around in the early spring than in the summer, when the trees and green plants suck up moisture and transpire  water vapor through their leaves.  Plus, warm weather speeds up evaporation.  But in the spring, these reflecting pools linger for weeks.  This week I saw a robin splashing  in the water’s shallow edge.

March has been so warm that we have often been able to leave the window open a little at night. I love waking up to the familiar bird songs.  I don’t know who is making all the different chirps, flutes, warbles and trills, but I know they are old friends. As are the amphibians who have been peeping and quacking their way through the warmer days and nights.  This spring is far from silent, and I am filled with gratitude toward Rachel Carson and other defenders of this intricate and cacophonous web of life.

The furry wildlife are newly active;  neighbors have seen a fox and a woodchuck. Friday morning, when I went out to empty the compost bucket, I saw another sign of spring.IMG_20160318_120903740

The black bears have emerged from hibernation, it appears, and for the first time, paid a visit to our bird feeder (as well as those of three neighbors up the hill).  Sorry birds, you’ll have to fend for yourselves until next December.

IMG_20160318_122603654More indicators of spring’s imminent arrival are the emerging buds and blossoms on our shrubs, such as the witch hazel,  which has been showing its fragrant yellow threads for weeks. The blossom tips of serviceberry and flowering quince are poking out, and today I saw red maple trees in bloom.


This week I discovered the first leaves of many perennial plants unfolding from the dark earth. Near the pools at the north end of the yard were numerous clumps of marsh marigolds, all descended from one ancestor I purchased at the Amherst Garden Club sale many years ago.

IMG_20160318_121026469The  stinging nettles are up, but in a new spot.  I may have to transplant those before they get tall this summer, and,  leaning toward the light, extend over the path and sting our bare legs.The first sweet cicely plant is unfurling and the red clover and chives are emerging in the fenced vegetable garden.IMG_20160318_121111755

This week I participated in another rite of spring, and another sign of new life and hope. It was a protest march through several Franklin County towns called Taking Steps to a Renewable Future.  Our church’s Earth Ministry Team co-sponsored this event and six adult members and two of our children have shown up. We don’t want any new fossil fuel infrastructure, including pipelines like the proposed Kinder Morgan pipeline, which appears to be intended to bring fracked natural gas from Pennsylvania to the coast for export. And we certainly don’t want to pay for it. Instead, we want to phase out fossil fuel use and to invest in a rapid deployment of renewable energy, conservation and energy efficiency. The climate clock is ticking, and so the turnout of at least 200 people, young and old, was heartening.IMG_20160319_104030824_HDR





One thought on “Signs of Spring

  1. I so enjoyed this meticulously observed essay, Betsy. In traveling to coastal Georgia, it feels to Lois and me that we’ve jumped ahead to early May. Amazed to know that bears have raided your bird feeder in downtown Amherst. We left our feeder full and fear that the same fate will befall it as we and Astro are not around to scare off the bears.

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