By Brenda Buchanan
Winter’s cold, dead fingers were pried away from Southern Maine this week.
No one mourned.
This year’s transition to spring demanded the same kind of emotional fortitude one needs to get over a bad head cold that gives way to a nagging cough. But on April 8 nature flipped its switch, and now signs of spring are everywhere.
A male woodpecker drums each morning on a maple tree in our front yard. Finally warm enough to sleep with a window open, there’s no ignoring the boisterous love song as he marks his romantic territory. But after a March that seemed to last 62 days rather than 31, fresh nighttime air is well worth the un-muffled racket of an eager-to-mate woodpecker.
In other bird news, the goldfinches are showing off their spring plumage, red-winged blackbirds were flashing about at the pond behind Scarborough Beach last Sunday, and a snowy egret stood posed as though for a portrait in the marsh along Black Point Road.
In a few weeks the warblers will arrive with their fabulous songs. We’ll grab our binoculars and make the trek to a few favorite birding spots to see who’s migrating through, one of the year’s happiest rituals.
We raked the winter mulch off the tulip beds on Sunday and crocus are popping up all over the yard. One evening this week we’ll give the shade garden its annual compost snack then wait for the hostas and ferns to emerge.
Soon we’ll plant seed in a raised garden bed fitted with a cold frame and a month later we’ll be eating our own salad greens, spinach and chard.
My heavy parka has been relegated to the back of the closet where its lightweight sister will join it soon. Come hell or late snow, the only boots I’ll wear for the next eight months or so will be hikers. My snow boots are packed away in favor of regular shoes, sneakers and—soon—sandals.
The pile o’ hats, mittens and scarves that lived in the back seat of my car for the past several months have been replaced with a Red Sox cap, just in time for the start of the season.
One night last week I stayed up way too late watching a 0-0 game into the twelfth inning, when a dramatic three-run homer broke the tie and gave us the win.
I struggled through the offseason more than ever this year. Since November the TV has been something to avoid, but the Sox make it safe to pick up the clicker again.
This weekend we’ll wash the windows and put up the screens.
The bikes are winking at me from the back of the garage. Time to pump up the tires.
Soon the flannel sheets will be replaced with cotton and the grill will start to get regular use.
In the meantime we’re listening for the first peepers of the season, welcome music that serves the same happy purpose as the woodpecker’s rat-a-tat-a-tat-a-tat call for companionship.
BLOG READERS: WHAT ARE YOUR SPRING RITUALS? HOW DO YOU KNOW WHEN WINTER IS DONE?
Brenda Buchanan is a former newspaper reporter with deep respect for small town journalism. The three books in her Joe Gale Mystery Series (Quick Pivot, Cover Story and Truth Beat) feature an old-school reporter with modern media savvy who covers the Maine crime beat. Brenda can be found on the web at www.brendabuchananwrites.com.