Was it my imagination or do the branches and twigs on the weeping willow along my driveway have a little more color? Sometimes in late winter trees give us low-key clues that spring is on the way. Maples show red at twig tips and willows, such as the one along my driveway, show a brighter shade of yellow.
Astronomical spring arrives on March 20. But as much as one month prior to that, nature shows us signs of the changing seasons.
For instances, those who spend time in the woods and those who feed wild songbirds, probably have noticed that along about now black-capped chickadees change their song. It becomes just a little more raspy.
And by looking closely at little pools of water formed by melting snow, we might notice a coating of some kind of dust on the water’s surface. More than likely it isn’t dust at all. Snow fleas, a.k.a. springtails, thousands of them, jump around on the snow around the base of trees. In fact, rivulets of snowmelt can channel umpteen snow fleas to a larger pool and likely millions of the tiny creatures can entirely cover the surface.
Then we have the less tangible signs of spring such as the way the earth smells where snow has melted and sunlight thaws the top layer. This is evident in towns, too. On a warm day in late winter, all the smells, scents and odors that were there last summer and fall are suddenly unlocked. Some of these scents are quite attractive and in our minds we can imagine that they are of distant flowers, or perhaps of someone baking bread.
In a little over one month we’ll have the real deal to embrace. But for now, these silent, often-unnoticed signs of spring are sufficient to buoy hope in winter-weary mortals.