Waiting for Spring

The other day while talking with a friend, she mentioned she’s looking forward to this spring. I understand that – ready to “get to the good stuff” – but this is precisely one reason I started a phenology journal. For so long it seemed that one moment it was spring and the next, it was already sliding into summer. I had missed the transition from winter to spring to summer. By looking too far ahead, I missed all that had passed. So that’s changed thanks to phenology (science of the seasons).

It’s about being more mindful in my observations of the nature around me. It’s about thoroughly appreciating what’s happening right here – right now. As this practice has developed, taking notes (just a sentence here and there) has grown into a more deliberate appreciation of the transition. It seems Spring actually arrives on the wings of Bluebirds and Sandhill Cranes, but the early signs of spring are already underway.

In late January, I started noticing the ravens a bit more. With the arrival of the stronger spring winds, the ravens are playing on the currents and starting to pair up to dance on the wind – courtship behavior. You’ll see the pairs flying in synchronized moves – soaring and diving together. It never fails to bring a smile to my face. I do love ravens.

Another early sign are the owls – and ones around here in particular are Great Horned Owls. They sing duets with the female’s voice higher than the male’s. This is part of their courtship behavior. We’ve not heard them as often this year around our house in town, but some evenings, we’ll hear them just outside the windows. Our rabbit population has dwindled significantly – we’re hardly seeing even any tracks in the small amounts of snow that falls occasionally.

I’m always grateful for any and all snow that falls – you’ll not find me complaining about that ever. We normally get the larger snowfalls in February and March (and April…maybe May). That’s moisture we need. But if you pay attention, the storms have a different quality about them than they do in November and December. They also take turns with some warmer days that almost feel like spring (unless the winds are blowing). This is the dance between the seasons that I so often missed before I started to pay attention.

It’ll be a bit longer until either the ravens or owls nest, but these signs are a reliable indicator that we’re already in that transition phase from winter to spring. There’s no need to wait for spring. Just savor what signs you start to see now.

The Bluebirds should arrive in a couple of weeks when they normally do, and we can hear about the first grizzly sighting any time now as the boars start to emerge. But for now, watch the ravens having some fun.


SnowMoon Photography

Be Outside • Take Notes