A man for all seasons

If my grandmother were alive, she’d say, “The back of winter has been broken.” Of course, she also maintained, “Winter hasn’t gone until the snow is out of the bush.” Still, there are positive signs, Nanna. Daylight saving time arrived over the weekend and the rest of this week is supposed to get warmer, reaching a balmy 13C in Toronto on Thursday.

But there were other, earlier aspects of spring, particularly in the bird world. Cardinals started singing on territory three weeks ago as they announced their nesting sites and fended off other males of the species. A week ago today, I saw an American Robin south of the Whitney Block at Queen’s Park feasting on crabapples leftover from last year. He might have been a wintering bird but usually they travel in small flocks. He was a loner and therefore a candidate, in my mind at least, to be a recent returnee. The third and final bird sighting that offered testimony of an incipient spring were crows in the open land north of Toronto near Orillia this past weekend. They were flying in small groups, wheeling almost gleefully, calling to each other about the difference they sensed in the climate.

Even some portions of gardens are evoking hopeful signs. At the back of Burwash Hall on the University of Toronto campus, warmth exuding from window wells has melted the snow and created several semi-circles of garden dirt. These areas have been snow-free and warmed for so many days that some tulip leaves have shot up three inches. Buds are sure to soon appear. I’ll admit this example is a bit forced and artificial, but hey, at this time of year you take any good news you can get.

I am not one of those morose Canadians who complains about winter. After all, I survived and thrived during the winter of 1970-71 in Ottawa when 444 cm (more than 14 feet) of snow fell, setting a local record that still stands today. No complaints from me; I revel equally in all the seasons. It’s just that it’s time for the next one.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *