Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Spring 2008!

A few weeks ago, Tanzi announced that spring had arrived based on certain metrics that she personally believes in (robins, Dairy Queen, hotdog vendors). I myself use a more scientific method of deciding when winter is truly over: the long-anticipated melting of famous Mount Hussey.

This occurred on April 20th of last year, and I'm pleased to announce that spring comes earlier this time: April 14th, by my best estimate. You are now allowed to put out your patio furniture without fear of frost or snowfall. I say this without consulting a weather forecast or an almanac; if I'm wrong, I'll eat my crow-feather hat.

I have to admit that there are other more subjective signs of spring besides Mount Hussey. The aforementioned robins can sometimes be counted on, and I had my first taste of street meat on the way home today.

More significantly, though, I notice the change in duck behaviour. They spend all winter huddled up on the edges of their frigid creeks, waiting to be fed by lonely old men from the Waterloo Legion, but when Spring approaches they start to forage afield, waddling nonchalantly across roads and looking for a place to lay their duck-spawn. Every year some dim-witted waterfowl decides to roost inside a planter at my workplace, not realizing that it is too high and too inaccessible for newly-hatched ducklings to escape from. Likewise, every year I end up rooting through the foliage to rescue baby ducks, while mama and papa dive-bomb me in a surprisingly threatening way. It's more fun than work.

You can also tell that Spring is coming when strangers yell things at you on the street, simply to express a feeling of warm and happy social connectedness. The United Church holds its fabulous book sale around this time every year, and the retreating snow reveals all the litter that had been thrown into it during the previous months (though this was the first time I've had the pleasure of finding a bag of petrified dog feces on my lawn). Blind people, old people, and people in wheelchairs become visible once again. The doves venture out from wherever they've been hiding -- perhaps in the laps of blind old paraplegics -- and they stand high up on telephone wires, staring at you, tiny heads a-bob.

are beautiful.

But the real granddaddy of spring impressions, for me, is the smell of wet earth. All winter I do without any real odour, and then suddenly I'm assaulted by the rich, wormy smell of healthy earth being tilled and aerated. Having spent most of my life living beside both a farm and a river, this is my favourite thing about spring.


Syd Midnight said...

I realized it was spring when the daffodils started blooming. Trees will bud during a warm winter weekend, but the daffodils don't bloom until spring is here to stay. Only 2 weeks to enjoy them, then they're gone for another year. Transient and unglamorous, but they smell lovely.

Also hornets scoping out the gutters and doorways, another sure sign of spring, but instead of smiling I grab some heavy duty jet-propelled Black Flag "squad-of-marines-in-a-can" poison. I despise stinging insects, but respect the necessity of bees.

I haven't seen a bumblebee yet. On one hand they're huge, furry, stinging insects. On the other hand, they're extremely mild-mannered, bumbly, and cute. As long as they don't land on me, I greatly enjoy bumblebees, but I suppose they're really more of a "summer" thing.

Muffy St. Bernard said...

Yeah, I'm not sure exactly when the bumblebees arrive. There is something terrifying about how they look, so it's hard to consider them anything but a threat! Sort of as if a tame lion were slowly pacing around on your lawn.