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Spring's Here-Finally

2006-02-23 00:00

  The waterfall behind our house at the lower end of Lake Edenwold is a thundering cascade of spring runoff from the melting snows of winter. It's been a three-week drum roll leading up to today, when the cymbal will crash and the earth will arrive at that point in its orbit around the sun where it will be light for as many hours as it will be dark.

  Today is really the celestial climax to a prelude whose crescendo has been growing now for a month in the forests and lakes all around us. Beginning in late February and through the month of March on my Saturday morning hikes through the lower Highlands, I have watched spring slowly unfold before my eyes.

  A pair of hooded mergansers suddenly appeared on our lake earlier this month and I heard the unmistakable call of a wood duck. Several thousand feet overhead, an enormous, migratory flock of Canada geese undulated like strands of limp black thread suspended against a steel gray sky; their wild honking clearly audible in spite of the flock's altitude.

  Just a little more than one week ago, as I came to a place in the woods where the forest suddenly yields to what is a wild flower meadow in the late spring and summer, the bare trees were filled with hundreds of red-winged blackbirds, their cacophonous chatter filling the otherwise still morning air. It was an eerie harbinger of spring, reminiscent of the Alfred Hitchcock movie "The Birds." Later that same afternoon, a small flock of cedar waxwings, another migratory species of songbirds stopped for a rest in a nearby tree only two blocks from our house.

  Man has always been fascinated with the arrival of spring. King Solomon weighed in on it when he wrote these words from his "Song" in the Old Testament: "See! The winter is past; the rains are over and gone. Flowers appear on the earth; the season of singing has come, the cooing of doves is heard in our land. The fig tree forms its early fruit; the blossoming vines spread their fragrance."

  The arrival of spring has always marked a rebirth of sorts, not just for nature but also for us humans. It is a time of awakening, a time to forget the old and to embrace the new.

  For most kids it's simply a time when they can play outside longer, riding their new bicycles and skateboards or shooting hoops in driveway basketball courts. For some adults it can be a serious time, a release from the seasonal depression caused by the reduced hours of sunlight during the dark months of winter.

  But for most of us, it is a release from the mundane things that after three months have added up to the point where we are all just ready for a change. You know: things like having to wear layers of heavy clothing, white-knuckle drives to work on icy roads, and leaving home mornings in the dark only to drive back home again in darkness later the same afternoon.

  The crocus and daffodils will soon start peeking their heads above last year's pine bark nuggets and what's left of the winter snow still piled in the beds under the white pines out by the road.

  They are yet another prelude to the appearance of more flowers and birds: the warblers and the tanagers that will shortly appear in the trees around my home.

  I can't wait to inhale the aromas of things like the warming earth, new mown grass, and fresh piles of damp cedar mulch. And I am looking forward to that first morning when I can sit outside on my deck with a cup of coffee and feel comfortable without having to don a fleece or a heavy woolen shirt.

  Whatever your passion in life, take time like the busy King Solomon to pause from it for a moment over the next few weeks and just sit and watch and enjoy the spectacle of spring unfold before your eyes.

  And give thanks.

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