No season seems to tantalize as much as spring, but I have proof it's here.
Spring arrived yesterday with the vernal equinox at 7:02 A.M. (EDT). The temperature on my thermometer read 29 degrees F. For tonight we are expecting flurries with a low of 22. A winter storm is forecast for the weekend. I am not going to be disheartened by this. Spring is getting here. It's just a little slow. Vernal equinox – whatever -- I have seven signs of proof that spring is truly here.
No. 1 The wood on the wood pile destined for the wood burner in the living room is just about gone. Not only that, the gauge on the propane tank is in the red zone and heading for zero. With our means of staying warm rapidly disappearing, how is it possible that the warm weather of spring can be far off?
No. 2 The pesky pair of Canada geese is back courting on our pond. I know these are federally protected natural wonders but I don't like 'em. The poop these two produce is enough to start a compost business. Bad news for them, however, instead of having me throwing rocks at them as they squawk fearlessly out of reach in the middle of the pond, this year our new pup The Dude has taken up the challenge. No, The dude is not one to swim endlessly chasing a couple of geese. He is much more subtle with his approach. Despite the fact that normally he a Tasmanian Devil of excitement, with these geese he becomes all quiet and concentrated. He simply sits beside the pond and stares at them. Not barking or jumping or leaping and frothing. Unblinking he just sits and stares. The geese hate this and honk manically. It only takes a few minutes and they are so disconcerted by it they fly off. When they do, The Dude returns to digging massive holes in the front yard. Springtime for sure.
No.3 The farmers in Amish Ohio are beginning to plow their fields to plant oats. I saw it myself when I went to Sugar Creek this week to help Dave Daniels, director of the Ohio Department of Agriculture, celebrate Ag Week. I even stopped and chatted with Charles Burkhold and Jonas Troyer about it. They both looked frozen. Each was driving a team of three Belgians with a single bottom plow. I asked Jonas how he kept the furrow so straight. "It helps to have a team that is working at the same pace," he said. I reckon they each plowed about a half an acre that day.
No. 4 My lawnmower won't start. I like to be ready when the grass starts busting loose. Since the daffodils have those fat buds at the end of their stems, I know it won't be long. So I tested the lawn mower and sure enough the battery is dead. That's not all. I suddenly remembered that the dang thing wouldn't turn off much of last summer and I had to stall it out with a jolting pop of the clutch. Oh yeah, it wasn't turning all that well either. OK we can fix that. Luckily, there's a winter storm coming this week.
No. 5 The algae is beginning to grow on the pond. I'm not talking about toxic green algae here. I'm talking about the matted stuff that floats to the surface and turns ugly brown. It's not hard to control with a little copper sulfate, but you have to apply it at the right time. That would be February. By now the stuff is already too thick to kill. Get the rake. It's not just for fall leaves anymore.
No. 6 It's time for March Madness. We have a family tradition of picking the winners in the college basketball tournament. Despite the fact that I inaugurated and fostered this family fun time, it is part of the tradition that I am the first one to be eliminated? Me, who has followed the basketball season more carefully than anyone else in the family. Me, who not only watches the games, but actually attends them every year with three good friends. I am the one whose bracket is busted by end of the first weekend and has to listen to people who can't even pronounce Gonzaga tell me it was obvious the Butler Bulldogs would win because they wear blue uniforms.
No 7 OK. There are way more than seven. The neighbor's cows are beginning to calve. Right now I count about 22 in the pasture beyond our fence. They lie like Black Labrador retrievers beside their Angus mothers. Sometimes in the evening you can hear them bawling back and forth. And the redwing black birds were dive bombing me as I walked past the cattails around the pond. And the spring peepers were chorusing in the dark when I took the dog out last night. And red tail hawk is sitting on her nest in the tallest cherry tree on the farm. And the Big Dipper is tipping out its contents in the northern sky. And the robins are working over the front lawn.
Yes it's going to snow again, but that's just part of it. Spring is really here.