Early spring’s message can feel like a paradox. Warm sunny days followed by a snow storm. Icy rain biting at raw skin followed by a warm breeze that can uplift your state of mind. It can confound the body and make wardrobe choices a frustrating activity. But though spring’s message may seem confusing, at the base (’cause “it’s all about the base”) it’s about change. And change rarely is a straight and narrow path. Change can shift and turn back on itself and wind around. Change also may not go at steady pace. You may feel stuck in the mud. Or that you are barely keeping afloat. Or that you are excitedly riding the rapids. Or that you’ve found yourself in a gentle groove.
Well, we humans are not the only ones feeling all these changes. It may seem hard to keep up with the seasonal fluctuations. Imagine you are a male Red-winged Blackbird. You arrive early (for whatever reason) and then at least 14 inches of snow is dropped on the wetland you were scoping out for a home to offer the missus and raise a family. Freezing temperatures ensue. As an insectivore, what are you to do? You may try your luck probing the bases of aquatic plants with your slender bill to find overwintering insects nestled within. Or you may find leftover seeds along the edges, between field and marsh. Perhaps even some sunflower seeds at a bird feeder… You make do.
Now imagine you are a crocus. Have you been studying the weather patterns to decide the most appropriate time to sprout? Were you investigating springtime history, computing sunlight minus darkness, times mean March temperature to figure out when to pop from the ground? Did you hear the bumble bee and consider – oh, am I late? Or did you just think – ready or not, here I come – having faith that somehow you would survive the weight of the snow, the lack of pollinators, the chilly breezy days, because you wanted to be the first to greet the Red-winged Blackbird’s return?
Whatever your feelings or thoughts are about early spring, note: this too shall pass. So why not enjoy the mud? The dripping icicles? The returning flocks overhead? The almost inaudible pitter patter of mole salamanders on the march to their vernal pools? The antics of inebriated robins rocking to the tune of fermented berries in their heads?
Spring is heralded in in a thousand ways – all expressing the hope renewal brings.
Into the Outside is a bi-monthly feature in the Ashfield News and Shelburne Falls & West County Independent. This article appears in the March 30, 2017 edition of the Shelburne Falls & West County Independent.
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