Spring in Vermont is well underway, but Ole Man Winter isn't letting up on his grip without a fight. Daytime temperatures have been hovering in the 40s, occasionally climbing into the low 50s, and evenings drop back into the 20s. All this makes for some interesting back road driving...hub deep mud by early afternoon and frozen ruts by morning. Its called mud season for good reason. Where snow continues to blanket the ground, it is definitely showing age and will eventually melt away revealing of course only more mud.
And this is also sugaring season. Maple trees have been yielding sap, bucket after bucket, while sugar houses are billowing out steam as a byproduct of boiling down the raw product to sweet ambrosia...maple syrup. Each gallon of syrup requires 40 gallons of sap and a lot of hard labor not to mention late nights. From what I hear the 2013 season is looking to be a good one which is welcome relief following last year's poor sugaring season.
For me another sure sign of spring is the first arrival of male Redwing Blackbirds and hearing their guttural, squeaky songs, konk-ka-ree. In their wake have been the appearance of other early spring migrants such as Turkey Vultures, Common Grackles, American Woodcocks, Tree Swallows, and a variety of waterfowl. With each passing day or two a new spring migrant makes its annual appearance. Its a rite of spring and spiritual renewal after a long winter.
The four tom Wild Turkeys that had been daily visitors to our yard gleaning seed and cracked corn from underneath the bird feeders have moved on in pursuit of mates. Just yesterday while driving we were stopped in our tracks by a hormone pumped tom standing in the road seemingly oblivious to everything except the bevy of hens fully aware of our presence.
In a few weeks the Vermont landscape will be flushed with a pallet of pastels. Forested hills breaking from winter dormancy will be flushed with pale greens and pinks with a splash of white here and there disclosing amelanchiers and viburnums in bloom. Fields and pastures will green up and many wetlands will burst with gold marsh marigolds. For me this all too brief couple weeks of spring rivals the hyped fall foliage season. Greek mythology associates spring, a time of new growth, with the nymph Chloris, so let's welcome her once again and take pleasure in her gifts.