Thursday, February 26, 2015

Great Expectations of Spring

If we can hang on for 2+ days more, we will have made it through another meteorological Winter in Minnesota. The good folks at Annenberg Learner have created a fantastic web site that includes a Signs of Spring Phenology Checklist. It looks to me like the kind of tracking and learning experience I enjoy. I'm going to see how much of the list I can complete. If any of you reading this are distant from Minnesota and the upper Midwest, we could partner and compare notes. Use the comments box if you're interested.

some of the mixed flocks feeding
some of the mixed flocks feeding
Photo by J. Harrington

We're still enjoying the typical end of Winter mix of birds at the feeders. If you look carefully, you'll see a purple finch on the left, two gold finches in the middle, and a chickadee-dee-dee or the right. We've also had visits from a red bellied woodpecker, a red-bellied nuthatch, hairy and downy woodpeckers and, at ground level the other day, a male cardinal. [UPDATE: while writing this, a pileated woodpecker was exploring the trees between the house and the road.] Watching these folks at the critters is definitely a few steps up from looking for snow fleas, but my Better Half and I needed an improved "Spring fix." Remember the saying about "if the hill won't come to Mahomet?" Well, think about Spring and Minnesota in place of a hill and Mahomet. Yesterday, we went and got a small piece of Spring to serve as a beacon for what will some day (soon?) arrive. Here's a picture of what's hanging next to the main entrance to the kitchen, where we see it several times a day.

blue crocus, daffodils
blue crocus, daffodils
Photo by J. Harrington

Admittedly, compared to last year's Polar Vortex (and this year's East Coast), we've been lucky so far and there's only another four or five months left of this year's snow season. It will be wonderful if the rest of Spring arrives before all the blooms in the pictured plants have faded, but I'm not counting on that.

Dear March - Come in - (1320)

Emily Dickinson, 1830 - 1886 

Dear March - Come in - 
How glad I am -
I hoped for you before -
Put down your Hat - 
You must have walked -
How out of Breath you are - 
Dear March, how are you, and the Rest -
Did you leave Nature well - 
Oh March, Come right upstairs with me -
I have so much to tell -

I got your Letter, and the Birds - 
The Maples never knew that you were coming -
I declare - how Red their Faces grew -         
But March, forgive me - 
And all those Hills you left for me to Hue - 
There was no Purple suitable - 
You took it all with you -         
Who knocks? That April -
Lock the Door -
I will not be pursued -
He stayed away a Year to call 
When I am occupied -         
But trifles look so trivial 
As soon as you have come
That blame is just as dear as Praise 
And Praise as mere as Blame -