Harbingers of spring

I saw my first robin of spring a month ago today. At least I think it was a new arrival. So many American Robins are now wintering in Toronto that it’s hard to know when a migrant arrives. But this one was solo, working my front lawn for worms. Those who stay through the winter tend to be found in flocks.

Now that we’re in mid-April other spring migrants are returning. Kinglets are here, a bird so tiny that you wonder how they survive the trauma of the trip north. So, too, red-winged blackbirds, singing conk-a-ree with their scarlet and yellow epaulets glistening in the tall grasses of wetlands or on riverbanks.

People are also feeling the change in the seasons as they shed heavy clothing for lighter raiment. On the subway, I watched a mother with two children. The oldest, a boy of maybe four, was joyful about what seemed to be his first ride on the subway. A young woman sitting nearby, who looked like she might have been a camp counsellor for a summer or two, began making shapes and configurations with her fingers for his amusement. The lad tried to mimic what he saw, with little success, causing laughter all around. Soon, four Francophones a few rows away got into the act, adding different twisting finger play silliness. Other riders, usually buried in newspapers, revelled in the frivolities.

Later that same day as I stood waiting for the subway, I watched a young woman dancing by herself across the way on the opposite platform. She’d sashay a few steps to her left, twirl, and head to her right, then repeat. I thought she must have been listening to music, but I could see no earbuds, no electronic device.

When her train came along, she danced into the car, where she continued her gentle gyrations. All I could think, as the train rolled away, was that by the time she’d gone a couple of stops, maybe other passengers would have joined in, dancing to the music that she alone could hear in her head. Spring’ll do that to you.

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