Folks everywhere are posting photos of green shoots and blooming things. It has been a long and strident winter after all and we are ready for color and warmth. There are none of these signs in my neck of the woods. Yet even though there is still two feet of snow on the ground and my driveway looks like this, I know Spring is on the way! To the casual observer, it is still winter here in Vermont, especially when the weather folks are predicting yet another winter storm.
Here are six subtle clues that spring is on the way:
1. The sun is warm, even on a sub-freezing day. I find that I’m opening my coat just a bit when the sun is full out and I’m basking in its life-giving light.
2. We are beginning to see beech leaves and empty seed pods scattered here and there on the snow. Beech trees keep many of their leaves through the winter, only to be shed when the buds of new growth swell and expel the old. New growth is coming and the trees are getting ready.
3. The trees look softer. I know this might not make sense since they are still sticks right now, but instead of looking hard and prickly, they somehow look softer and less defined. When we look at the hillsides, the trees are looking more impressionistic and less delineated.
4. The trees are taking on subtle color changes. The woods no longer look cold and gray; rather, there is a reddish brown blush to them, especially around the ends of the branches.
5. The willows are turning yellow. Willows have a distinctive color in the spring before they sprout leaves. While they may appear more yellowish than other trees through the winter, when spring is near, that yellow intensifies and you can’t miss it. All of a sudden, they stand out from all the rest.
6. The chickadee is starting to sing his spring song. We have these perky little fellows around all winter and are very accustomed to their “chicka-dee-dee-dee” songs. But as spring draws closer we begin to hear their other song, a beautiful melodic interval.
So, you see, it’s coming. We are ready! Welcome Spring!