“In the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt.”
― Margaret Atwood
“It is spring again. The earth is like a child that knows poems by heart.”
― Rainer Maria Rilke
Spring is coming to the valley this week, and we’re all ready to kick up our heels after the long winter. The post below is from last year, but it fits.
Heavy wet snow fell last night and the trees are laden, my crocus buried. But several afternoons ago after the rain showers ended, the day turned mild and I pulled some overwintering weeds from one of my flower borders. A whole wheelbarrow full. While bent contentedly to my labors, I heard the sweet trill of a meadowlark, my favorite songbird. Silent today. When the sun shines and the weather softens, I will hear it sing again. This crazy weather is typical of early spring in the Shenandoah Valley. A cold snap follows on the heels of a wonderfully balmy day or two. This year has been on the colder side and wet, which is just as well with our tendency toward summer droughts. We’ll take the moisture while we can.
Ducks and geese love all the puddles that come with the rain, and our farm pond is finally full again after dwindling to a sad state in the past. Happy quacks resound against the fussy geese fighting over nesting sites. These battles, and the meadowlark singing, are among the first signs of spring. And the pussy willow blooming. I picked a lovely bouquet of pussy willows yesterday. The fuzzy catkins brighten the kitchen in an old mason jar,
Back to the meadowlark, my goal is to ever actually see one of these elusive birds again. Theoretically, this shouldn’t be such a challenge, with our meadows and all. Once or twice, I’ve glimpsed a yellow flash and spotted the bird perched on a fence post before it flew. Mostly, they hide in the grass and skim away to another spot before I get a good look, calling all the while from various positions in the meadow.
Several years ago, my daughter Elise and I were determined to track down the evasive songster and take its picture, like photographing fairies. We tenaciously followed its calls, even climbed over the fence into the neighbor’s pasture and picked our way along the little creek that flows from our pond, but never caught up with that bird, or birds. There may have been more than one taunting us. Unless I catch another rare glimpse, I must content myself with their beautiful trills. Birds like this need tall grasses and untidy hedge rows for nesting. Bear that in mind in your own yard and garden. Keeping everything trim and cultivated robs our feathered friends of habitat. It’s also a good excuse for a less than perfectly kept landscape. A little wilderness here and there is a good thing.
“She turned to the sunlight
And shook her yellow head,
And whispered to her neighbor:
“Winter is dead.”
― A.A. Milne, When We Were Very Young
***Images of spring in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia by my mom, Pat Churchman, Grady, the soft-coated Wheaton terrier, and pussy willow by daughter Elise. Beth and Elise in our meadow by my husband Dennis. Obviously, I had to purchase the image of the meadowlark