Monday, March 14, 2011

Signs of Spring

Canada Geese returning to their nesting grounds.
In spite of what the groundhog saw (or didn't see) in February, signs of spring are slow coming to the Great Lakes State this year. Snow is finally giving way to patches of grass in the yard and sap is starting to flow in the maple trees!

Syrup season is always a glorious time of year in Michigan. The first spring birds appear, cardinals and chickadees start to sing and goldfinches begin molting into their golden yellow feathers of summer. Snowshoeing and skiing are done until next winter and soon mud season will be upon us. What a wonderful time of the year, when life returns to the land!

I think what I begin to miss most as old man winter drags his feet are the sounds and smells of nature in all her life-filled splendor. In many ways, we're lulled into a restless sleep as winter weeks tick slowly by. The air is cold and dry and skies are quiet, unless the winter wind is whipping bare branches to and fro or sighing through the pines.

Water begins to flow as ice melts on the Dead Stream
Now it's time to delight as the sun returns to fill our days with warmth! Smell the soil beneath your feet as the ground thaws and the first spring flowers begin to poke their heads through the earth. Listen to the birds! Canada Geese and Sandhill Cranes are honking and squawking as they fly northward overhead. In your backyard or in the park down the street, chickadees, blue jays, cardinals and robins chirp and tweet as they find their mates and choose their nesting sites for the breeding season soon to come.

Hug a tree! So much is going on in the forest. Sap rushes upward from root to branch, sending life-giving energy to the tip of every twig where buds patiently wait to send forth new leaves. The entire woodland ecosystem is connected with energy beneath our feet as roots, fungi and wee beasties move back and forth, chatting in complex relationships we hardly understand.

Yes, it's bound to be sloppy out on the trail and we're sure to have gray days of rain and cold spells here and there. But the miracle of spring life returning to the world only comes once a year and lasts but a few short weeks. Before too long, our northern forests will be filled with green leaves on every tree and we'll hardly recall these glorious days of transition when everything is literally changing before our eyes. So get outside before you miss it! Mud washes off and a warm cup of tea awaits the weary traveler at the end of the road.

Spring is nearly upon us. Where is your place in the interconnected web of all existence? Can you see the strands of living energy all around? Can you hear the pipes of Pan?

See you in the woods,

Skybranch /|\