Daffodils, jonquils, buttercups. We might as well change their name to Hallelujah flowers. That’s the word that comes to mind when I see little yellow clumps appearing along my daily pathways. They are God’s way of telling us- “See, I told you spring would return!”
Green spots are showing up in our beige yards. Weeds? At this point, we welcome anything colorful. Sorting out which varieties of blades are permitted in what spots can wait for later. I wish I had spent a little more time last summer clearing out the iris beds. Hopefully, those well-packed buds of color will push up through the weeds soon, with the promise of a few fully formed masterpieces just before Easter.
My backyard bird feeder would stay busy all year if I kept it full of seeds. I will admit there were days during this unusually long and relentless winter that I did not venture out to stand in that wet spot and reach over my head to pour the little morsels into their designated receptacle. But when I did make the trip, I was rewarded with the hustle and bustle of God’s feathered friends demonstrating their survival techniques. It really is amazing when you think about it. We bundle up in boots, scarves, hats, gloves, and they navigate very well in the wardrobe they were born with.
A troop of red-breasted robins traveled through our area in advance of one of those so-called polar vortexes (vertices?). They didn’t seem to linger long, before moving on to somewhere warmer, and I haven’t seen them return yet. I guess, just like our friend the groundhog, they recognize the value of waiting for just the right moment to emerge.
Migrating flocks of other birds fill our trees with a cacophony of noise. I wonder what they are saying to each other.
“Hey- that’s my twig you’re sitting on.”
“Where did they say we were stopping for the night?”
“Sorry, buddy, this tree is just not big enough for all five thousand of us. Move along.”
“Who is in charge, here?”
“We’re leaving again? Okay- wait for me!”
Our two-story purple martin house is clean and raised to the proper height. We hope it passes the inspection of the scouts so that we will have several swooping and chattering tenants soon. In exchange for a safe place to raise their little families, they will reward us with very effective mosquito eradication.
Inside, in front of the television, we are bidding goodbye to images of bobsleds and snowboards, and paying a little more attention to the basketball games. It’s the time of year that we start counting the wins and losses of our favorite team in the hopes that they will be chosen for the big dance. Once a year, we hear about schools with strange names that are striving to be this year’s Cinderella team. Where exactly are Creighton and Gonzaga located anyway?
Another favorite local sport is picking up steam as the Oaklawn crowd is chomping at the bit for the opening of the infield. With or without gambling, it is a great place to soak up sunshine, rub elbows with all sorts of humans, admire some beautiful horses, and of course get ahold of some classic food like corned beef and soft pretzels.
Back at home, on the front porch, another harbinger is being seen and heard. The ice cream vendor is the vehicle that everyone loves to hate. Once popular only in the hottest part of the summer, it now shows up every time the temperature rises over 50. I’m sure I will be tired of the tinny calliope version of Turkey in the Straw before the Fourth of July, but right now, I would be glad to break into a little jig as the neighbor children flock out to flag it down.
On Facebook, parents of high school seniors are beginning to post their “lasts”. Last home basketball game, last prom dress. Soon, the caps and gowns will appear, and the children we’ve enjoyed watching as they grew up will be off to college.
It’s time for putting away the long sleeves and bringing out the short ones, for transitioning from boots to flip-flops. Time to feel the sunshine on your face and the mud between your toes.
At long last, spring. Praise the Lord.
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