Signs of the Seasons

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Spent the better part of the last two days doing assorted tasks that ended up taking more time than I expected. Our alarm system battery needed to be replaced and now I’ve got this thing that you really can’t dump in the trash. I’m a sort of responsible person so I figure I’ll do the right thing and give it to someone to recycle. Yeah, finding a place around here was a bit of a challenge. All the links tended to be for community days and who wants to hold onto an old battery for a few months. But I did find the closest place which was a single door in some giant warehouse where I was dodging the trucks leaving the various loading bays to find a place to park. It is now in more capable hands and I feel like I’ve done my part.

Then there were the taxes. Once my wife started her own business, my days of using Turbo Tax were over so we now let someone else figure out what we need to do. I give them as much information as I can but it always seems like they need something else so there was some back and forth and returning of forms with payment so they could file and so on.

Not much beauty in taxes though!

While all that was going on, nature kept moving the clock slowly from winter to spring. If you know what to look for, there are all kinds of signs that the worst is over and we are on the downhill run to spring. Not that it can’t get cold again or that it won’t snow again because it certainly can. It means the cold spells will be shorter and the snow won’t last as long.

While on a walk on Friday, we had a flight of Sandhill Cranes fly over on their way back north. We aren’t in the main flight path but we are close enough that we typically see a flock or two this time of year. Typically, you hear them long before you see them because their calls are so loud they can be heard even as they soar high overhead.

In another park on Sunday, we heard many Red-Winged Blackbirds which are the real herald of spring. The call is distinctive and the males show up first and call as they establish territories. Haven’t had any around the house yet but we typically get at least one to show up for a few days to eat while they wait for the natural food stores to be restocked. It is just a call I associated with spring and hearing it makes me happy.

Also, the cardinals have started to disappear. In the winter, they have no problems sharing space and I think at one time I counted 16 birds around the various feeders. When they establish nesting territories, they don’t share and we then see fewer birds around the feeders. I wonder sometimes if our yard is prime territory given the feeders. Wonder if we get high ratings on the Cardinal version of Travelocity. Of course the owl that lurks nearby may lower our ratings given what happened to one poor cardinal earlier this winter.

Speaking of the owls, we have a pair calling to each other. I don’t know if it is a male/female pair or a male defending his territory but they have increased their vocalizations. In the winter, we had the one owl who would sit in a particular branch the entire day. Now, I see one flying from tree to tree several times during the day. Not sure if it is the same owl or a new one but the activity level is clearly up.

We still have a few piles of snow that are stubbornly refusing to melt. I guess that happens when you shovel nine inches into large mountains because you only have a few places to put snow. But we have a week of spring like temperatures and that should get rid of the last remaining bits of the big storm.

The good news is that cold and snow cover kept the daffodils under wraps. We have had years where February isn’t so cold and they’ve been out by the end of February. Which typically means we get a late freeze in early March that causes them to drop over and die. So a cold late winter is good for certain things. I do wish I had some crocuses around the house. I’ve planted some bulbs but the squirrels seem to love them. We had some around the house where I grew up and it was another little thing to look for. The first flowers of the season. They always looked so small and vulnerable but they were there to help usher out winter out.

I have always tried to notice these little signs. What I will say is that since I’m no longer working, it is easier to do so. Life moves at a slower pace now and it gives me more time to observe. It is hard to explain to people who wonder what I do all day but watching the birds and looking for signs of the seasonal changes is relaxing. When it gets really warm, I can get out the chair and sit outside and read which sounds rather unexciting but it something I’ve discovered I really enjoy.

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