Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Signs of Spring

by Annette Dashofy

As far as winters in southwestern Pennsylvania go, we’ve had a fairly mild one. Snowfall has been minimal. Spells of bitter cold haven’t dragged on endlessly. Still, I’m ready for spring. To be fair, I’m ready for spring as soon as the holidays are over. Winter is my least favorite season (memories of breaking frozen water buckets and chiseling at frozen bedding and frozen manure haunt me even though I haven’t had horses for nearly ten years). Spring, with its promise of rebirth, mild days, and fresh flowers is without a doubt my favorite season. Therefore, I start searching for signs of spring as early as possible.

Last Saturday, the stupid rodent, also known as Punxatony Phil, saw his shadow. Not that it matters. If he sees said shadow, we get six more weeks of winter. If he doesn’t, it’s about a month and half. But the very idea that we’re now officially counting down sets me into a search for anything spring. And this year, signs are everywhere.

February is known around these parts for mud and gray snow melting into slop. This year we definitely have the mud. My black high-top sneakers are currently brown, thanks to a stroll through my front year. We could hold a mud wresting match out there. Temperatures would not be an issue. Yesterday’s torrential downpours occurred while the thermometer climbed into the low sixties. In FEBRUARY. All of that was accompanied by a whopper of a thunderstorm that knocked out my satellite Internet service for a time.

Two days ago, the distinctive chirp of a robin redbreast taunted me. I usually hear them long before I see them. And I don’t generally hear them until March. But there he was, perched high in my maple tree.

And are those buds on that tree? I could be imagining them. Am I?

But in the season of new life, nothing says spring like baby animals. The neighbor’s cows are beginning to pop out calves. I’m keeping an eye on a breeding farm a few miles away, watchful for the first foal. None yet. But it could happen anytime now.

Of course, the best sign of spring are flowers. In that regard, I come up short. No daffodil greens poking up from last fall’s leaf mulch. No crocuses. Even my snowdrops, which bloom regardless of snow coating them and wither when spring really gets a foothold, have yet to appear.

So maybe it isn’t spring yet. Maybe Phil’s right and it’s still six—make that five and a half—weeks off. But maybe he’s wrong and it’s just around the corner.

Your mission today is to seek out evidence of spring and report back. I’m sick of winter!


Tory said...

Last week the robins appeared in the path where I walk along the Mon. behind my workplace. Several were there.

And the tips of my crocuses are up, though they haven't started to flower. I hope they don't, because we're supposed to have "snow showers" the end of this week. Nothing sadder than brown, wilted crocus flowers, surrounded by snow.

Annette said...

Thanks a bunch, Tory. I've been trying to avoid the weather forecast, knowing that this fifty and sixty degree weather wasn't here to stay, but basking in denial.

Gina said...

A few minutes ago I was out on my back porch calling the cats. It's not only warm, it's windy and raining. A touch of early March wind and April showers, perchance? It certainly feels like spring out there.

nancy said...

I have robins, too!

mike said...

Sign of spring? Does leaving the house this morning coatless count? Then again, the forecast calls for snow later this week, right? Perhaps 70 years ago April was the cruelest month, but with a changing climate, I'm inclined to say that now Feb. is our cruelest month...with days that hold the promise of spring's arrival followed by reminders that it's still winter. Hang in there, Annette, soon enough the grass will need mowing and the garden weeded.

Annette said...

I just came in from a quick walk. It definitely feels more like March, even April, than February. Yes, Mike, I think leaving the house without a coat counts for something. As for my garden, it didn't get weeded all last summer so I think I need to bring in the big guns: tractor-powered tiller. Then I can just start from scratch.

Annette said...

Hey, does anyone still get seed catelogs? I must have dropped off the mailing lists because I haven't gotten any this year.

Joyce said...

I saw a dozen robins on the front lawn of the township building when I pulled into work this morning. My trees definitely have buds on them.

I don't get seed catalogs, but I get catalogs from Spring Hill Nurseries ( That's where I buy all my plants. And if I happen to kill a plant, they send me a new one--no questions asked.

Annette said...

Jeez, they'd go broke with that policy if I bought from them!

Lee Lofland said...

We have sleet and freezing rain in the forecast for tonight. It's supposed to change to a few inches of accumulating snow tomorrow morning. I guess that's a sign spring's coming in New England - a lighter-than-usual snow fall.

Gina said...

If you check out, you'll see that the low area of the Parkway East by the 10th Street By-pass is expected to flood today. The Mon Wharf is closed. The rivers are running high and lots of areas are going to be under water. Floods are a sign of spring, aren't they?

Annette said...

Well, Gina, we're definitely getting those April showers. So I guess we can count flooding as a sign of spring.

Lee, I'm sorry to hear about the impending nasty weather coming your way. I suspect we're going to get some of it here, too.

And, by the way, I looked closer and I am NOT imagining things. My trees are in bud!