Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Winter's swan song?

One of my phenology references suggests that, if this Winter were like 1974, we could expect wood ducks to be returning (unlikely this year); that this is a good time of year to see bald eagles along the Mississippi below the Twin Cities (probably true); and that, similar to 1979, it's hard to tell if this is Winter or Spring (although recent local reports of an active raccoon are a promising, if annoying sign). Another notes that Canada geese move north with the thirty-two degree isotherm, which can be found still well south of us. I'm guessing that'll be more like the end of next week or the week after, or the one after that. On the other hand, we still have all of these events to look forward to.

wild tom turkeys, early Spring
wild tom turkeys, early Spring      © harrington

I haven't seen any of the local turkey flocks for awhile now. That's something else to look forward to, whether I decide to hunt one this year or not. The sound of a wild turkey gobble gives me the chills about every time. It's still another five weeks or so before the April 16 turkey opener. Minnesota's Spring goose season is already open, but I wouldn't expect many reports of success just yet (see thirty-two degree isotherm above). I'm hoping that the local pair(s) of swans that nested in the neighborhood last year return again.

trumpeter swans, late Spring
trumpeter swans, late Spring    © harrington

I'm also looking forward to the day, sometime soon, when I can start reporting on this Spring's happenings and when I can answer the questions with which Mary Oliver ends her poem.

The Swan

Did you too see it, drifting, all night, on the black river?
Did you see it in the morning, rising into the silvery air -
An armful of white blossoms,
A perfect commotion of silk and linen as it leaned
into the bondage of its wings; a snowbank, a bank of lilies,
Biting the air with its black beak?
Did you hear it, fluting and whistling
A shrill dark music – like the rain pelting the trees – like a waterfall
Knifing down the black ledges?
And did you see it, finally, just under the clouds -
A white cross Streaming across the sky, its feet
Like black leaves, its wings Like the stretching light of the river?
And did you feel it, in your heart, how it pertained to everything?
And have you too finally figured out what beauty is for?
And have you changed your life? 

- Mary Oliver 

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