Winter is beginning to lose its grip. The signs are there if you are not moving too fast to see or hear.
After a Friday morning low of 16 degrees, Saturday afternoon saw the temperature pass 60. The elderberry bushes have new leaves, while the hazelnut trees are sending up fresh suckers. Bird life of all sorts, both wild and domestic, has returned to the soundscape. At the nearby farm of friends, the sound of frogs fills the evening with throaty mating calls down by the creek.
The bins of seed potatoes have all sprouted and await the day when the gardener finds sufficient energy to plant. As the days lengthen, egg production of our 20 hens has grown from nil to an even half-dozen a day. Another couple of weeks and a dozen a day will be gathered. A bit more time and our Speckled Sussex will go broody. Another three weeks and the chicks will be tumbling out of every nook and cranny of the barn.
The pasture grass is still brown from a distance. But get in close and you’ll see the green shoots beginning to peek through. The trees are barren from afar, but approach them and a different story can be read: tight buds on the plums, peaches and maples. The land is waking back up. Having replenished its energy and reformulated its plans, it is ready to give it a go for another year.
Even the humans are venturing out in minor numbers. A drive into town yesterday and we spotted the elusive modern teenager tossing hoops with a friend. We passed on the temptation to slow and observe their behavior; such rare activity of the species should not be interfered with.
A bit farther down the road, we saw a man polishing his bass boat. Since when did fishing boats become toys? When did a simple jon boat become not good enough, with some sturdy tackle, ample lures and a trot-line to check at night? Since when have we needed depth finders and a boat that costs more than a modest home? When was the quiet joy of casting for bass or bream on a still pond replaced by the sounds of the Bristol Speedway on our waters?
Jon boat vs. bass boat—perhaps that is the tale of our age and our race: a slow pace propelled by paddles or a hurried dashing to and fro.
This spring I resolve: To walk, not run, through the season. To get down close, hands in the dirt, and feel the change. To sit more on the porch with family and friends and say nothing, listening instead to the frogs by the pond or for the sound of the moon rising. To walk among the sheep at night. Stand among the fruit trees and just look. Put a plump worm on a hook, toss it into a likely sheltered spot and just wait.
It’s time to wake back up and see if we are worthy to give it a go for another year.