Everywhere a sign

To quote Geoffrey Chaucer, “Whan that Aprill with his shoures soote (When April with its sweet-smelling showers) The droghte of March hath perced to the roote.” (Has pierced the drought of March to the root).” Beginning at 4 a.m. coyotes bay at the rising half moon that lights up the early morning sky. Once dawn has fully arrived, we notice more activity in the pond. The pair of mallards that were there yesterday has been joined by two pairs of hooded mergansers, preening and diving beneath the water for breakfast. Compared with the mallards, the mergansers appear tiny, but both sexes offer magnificent crests with the male displaying other features: a white splash on each side of his head as well as black and white stripes toward the tail and a reddish-brown belly. And the peepers are saying their name.
At a feeder, a female pileated woodpecker makes repeated trips. Last year, there was just a male pileated making his raucous cry. Has he found a mate? Is she stoking up for egg laying? At one point, while she is feeding, there’s a three-bird line-up patiently waiting their turn: both the male and female hairy woodpecker and a blue jay. Once they’re all satiated (for now) the chickadees flit in while juncos forage below for scraps on the deck. Two butterflies adorn the freshening air: one is black with lacy white; the other, brown and gold.
The garden also shows propitious signs. Red pokes in the soil announce that the peonies have survived. Hosta and day lilies have sent up two-inch sprouts. A coneflower has a clutch of tiny green leaves at the base of last year’s plant. Some clean-up will be required … but not today.
In the woods, the path is clear and dry with some snow patches left in low-lying areas. In the days to come, woodland flowers will bloom: trout lily, dutchman’s breeches and trilliums. The warblers will return, as they always do. I once knew a man, now dead, who claimed he could mimic the songs of all fifty-plus warblers in North America. I never heard anything from his repertoire; I took him at his word. Who would lie about such a thing? Nor can spring lie; it is here.

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