I’m obsessed. I keep eagerly looking for signs of spring. I take photos of my blooming crocuses and post them on Instagram. I breathlessly study the forsythia bush for signs of when it will burst into yellow blooms. I impatiently hike near a stream hoping to spot skunk cabbage, an aromatic native perennial that flowers early. I hopefully don coveralls and rake my flower beds, delighted when I see emerging tulips. Other years, cleaning up the garden beds has been a chore. What’s up?
I’m unusually obsessed with birds as well. The other day I was eating lunch, heard the returning sandhill cranes calling overhead, and rushed outside so I could watch, listen, and appreciate. Was I recalling a special morning years ago when my husband and I got up at 4:00 a.m., filled a thermos with coffee, and joined a small group to participate in the sandhill crane count? No, this need to find spring feels more desperate than simply reminiscing.
I open windows as soon as I wake up so I can hear the birds’ calls and songs. I watch a charming male cardinal flirt with a female. When I see him pass her a seed and she accepts it, I rejoice. I search the treetops for signs of their nest.
I take a bike ride to a cattail pond hoping to hear a red-winged blackbird which was my favorite bird call as a child when I lived near a pond and enjoyed carefree days.
I head with my husband to Devil’s Lake Park so I could check on the heron rookery. We drive to the south shore, park in the CCC camp lot, and step out of the car. We immediately hear loud quanks. I look up. Ten or so of these resilient birds have made it back. They’re busily going about their life, courting, nesting, preparing to lay eggs. My heart lifts.
I hike a path where I’d once discovered great horned owls nesting. Owls are early nesters, and I fantasize about spotting a fuzzy head popping up.
I carefully place 14 mallard eggs in two incubators. In 28 days, I hope to hear soft peep-peeps. The ducklings will work hard, using their special egg tooth to pip their way out. They’ll be exhausted, wet and weak, and some might need help. Most, though, will survive. I watch. I wait.
And now I get it. I’m obsessed because signs of spring give me hope. Hope that carefree days will return, hope that we’ll get through these hard times, hope for a better tomorrow.