March 20th marked the spring equinox, most commonly known as the first day of spring. But looking around, sometimes it seems like spring is still far off – that’s white stuff I see encrusted to the grass, isn’t it? Even so, if I pay attention to other signs, it’s not hard to see that spring has indeed started and nicer days aren’t too far off.
The first sign of spring that is most easily recognizable is the sun. Yes, we did have daylight savings and that helps make our days seem longer, but the days actually are lengthening. The sun is stronger as well. Have you been blinded by the reflection of the sun off the snow lately? That’s a sign of spring! The shadows in my woods are darker too, the contrast between the light and dark richer.
Melting snow is another sign of spring’s beginnings. If you live in town, most of your snow may have melted already. Out in the woods, we still have a thick covering. The very first sign of spring that I always notice is the ring of melted snow around the maples and other trees as the sap begins to flow under their bark. This is what the maple-makers await to tap into their precious supply of liquid gold.
Another sure sign of spring is flowers and first shoots. In town, I actually saw a crocus blooming last week! It may snow again and they will become covered over, but some flowers take advantage of the earliest spring days to open up their blooms and brighten the world. Here in the woods it will probably be another month before our crocuses open, but no worries, they will come. In various places, I have also seen daffodil leaves poking out of the ground too, working on being ready for Easter, which falls on April 1 this year.
Lastly, migratory birds are making a come-back. Over the past few weeks I have seen robins, red-winged blackbirds, a killdeer, and snow geese. Local birds that maintain territories, such as pileated woodpeckers, will begin to patrol their borders and oust any squatters. Everyone is on the move and getting ready for the up-coming breeding season.
Don’t be disheartened if there is still snow on the ground, the first signs of springs are out there indicating a turn of the season if we just take the time to look for them.