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!