I know it is only the middle of January, not yet even the mid-point between winter solstice and spring equinox when we watch the ground hog for signs of how much longer we must endure winter’s chill. And still, yesterday, as we emerged from the polar vortex and watched the temperature rise, first above zero, then even above freezing, I remembered that spring comes not just once a year but many times, if I am paying attention.
Yesterday morning, stepping outside with the dog just after dawn, we couldn’t help but notice. As I opened the door, first we heard it – a widespread fluttering that stopped even my young puppy in her playful tracks – and then we saw it – a flock of cedar waxwings rising from the snowy ground while another flock of robins lifted from the crab tree and an embellishment of finches, nuthatches, chickadees and juncos wove among the larger birds, and a solitary cardinal punctuated the wild story by landing in the lilac bush with a single splash of red.
Born in the autumn, our labradoodle Sophie had never witnessed spring before. But yesterday, on January 12, with the air offering a more gentle greeting and the birds stirring busily and beautifully, she sat down just outside the door to take note of this new thing nature was doing – a whiff of spring, the sound of feathered life, the promise of movement in a yard that has been frozen hard ever since Sophie arrived.
Surely, it is a reminder I need too, even having seen so many springs before and even knowing that weeks and months of winter remain ahead of us. Not only will spring come in time, the birds reminded me, but it will come more often than I might expect as it breaks through the snow clad days with glimpses of a gentler, greener possibility just beneath winter’s icy surface.