What is it about this time of year? When the weekend comes to “spring forward” and set our clocks ahead, just the idea of more sunshine each day is wonderful after the early darkness of winter. Here in New Hampshire we’ve had a number of warm days already that have convinced the purple and gold crocus flowers to poke up out of the ground. There are more (and different) birds chattering and gossiping in the trees behind our house, and the cats are enjoying the sunlight on the back porch. Just yesterday our big yellow cat, Tinker, found a tiny gray field mouse on the porch, and he sat there purring while Miss Mouse hunkered up in a corner.
Thanks to him being much too fastidious to catch and actually eat a mouse, he kept her company while I got a small plastic container in which to capture her. I finally coaxed her into it, put the lid on loosely and carried her out into the garage, where she hurried into a corner with many escape routes.
Our raised bed gardens, which the Crankee Yankee had covered with hay for the winter, are now looking like people just waking up from a long nap. Deep in the garden, the roots of our two peony bushes, one a deep raspberry, the other a pale and luminous pink, are already nourishing the red stems that will break through the soil in anticipation of the coming sunshine and soft rain of Spring.
The trees around the house are starting to get that light silvery-green look that means that the leaves are already starting to bud. Several V-formations of Canadian geese have been flying in, heading for the pond, and the pussy willows are already forming tiny gray “kittens” on slender twigs. The sun feels somehow kinder, and casts a gentle lemony light through the tree branches.
The days have actually been warm enough to go without socks (although I still keep a pair in the car, just in case), and during midway I walk with my jacket open. On the breeze you can just begin to smell that special earthy, piney, woody scent that comes with this time of year. Twilight seems a lighter blue that fades as you watch to lavender, and then to deep blue. Shortly after that, the diamond points of stars begin to wink on, and the moon is a thin sickle, or what we always used to call “God’s thumbnail.”
Of course, the real harbinger of Spring is when you can hear the *spring peepers. They make an intoxicating sound that is part Spring, part hope, part re-awakening of the senses. Just hearing them lightens the heart, and we can dream about putting away winter boots, heavy coats, wool scarves, thick socks, hats and gloves and mittens for another year.
But the best part of this season is the rising hope in our hearts and minds that tells us that this is a new year with new possibilities. All of the heaviness and cold of the winter is fading away, and we step into Spring with happiness, confidence and that sure, pure feeling that this Spring will be life-changing and life-affirming.
Don’t forget to set your clocks an hour ahead tonight!
*SPRING PEEPER: The critter is a tiny frog that used to be called Hyla crucifer, but has now been renamed Pseudacris crucifer.