Friday, March 11, 2016

Listening for Spring

I’m waiting to hear it. Sometime around dusk as we sit around the firepit resting after a day of garden work, we will hear his voice, and hers responding. They will probably be far back in the woods that surround our house and their call will echo from hill to hill.

Whip-poor-will! Whip poor will! I have always wondered what poor Will did to deserve a whipping, but that sober thought doesn’t detract from the music of the Whippoorwill as he calls to his love and she responds in kind. Closer and closer they come, their songs also coming closer, until at last they are singing in unison. Ah, yes. Spring has definitely come. For when we hear the Whippoorwill, we can be fairly sure that the killing frosts are behind us. Of course, the birds can be as wrong as the weatherman in their predictions, but I have found them more accurate, at least at predicting when we can plant the tender crops.

There are other spring sounds I listen for too. The surprising day when I realize the wind is actually rustling the leaves on the trees is one. Winter’s winds sear through the trees creating ghostly howls and even screeches as the branches whip about. And then one day, I will notice a softness in the breezes and a quiet rustle in the woods. The leaves have grown large enough to make that sweet sound, and even to cast a small shade on the ground.

Even earlier in the season the bees will be about their work. The maples in the yard will be budding and the honeybees will be hard at work gathering nectar to replenish their supplies of honey that dwindled during the cold months. Even in winter we might see them out on one of those warm, sunny days that surprise us in mid-winter. But when the maples and the daffodils bloom the bee are out in force, and I am happy to hear them because I know then that they’ve come through the cold season one more time.

One sound I do not look forward to, however—the lawn mower. It has to be done or we will be living in a brush patch but the first roar of that motor foreshadows months of trying to keep ahead of the growth. I think the old-timers might have been on to something when they tethered sheep to do their mowing. It certainly had to be quieter.

The early morning sun will be greeted with a symphony of bird calls, from the rough grating of the nuthatch to the beautiful melodies of wood thrush, brown thrasher and cardinals. In the trees, loud chirping will announce the arrival of nestlings in the many nests around our house. It is quiet here in the country, but it is a quiet that is filled with music, and each season has its own melodies.

The songs of spring are the harbinger of hard work, but also of the promise of another season of beauty and plenty. 

Copyright Susanna Holstein. All rights reserved. No Republication or Redistribution Allowed without attribution to Susanna Holstein.

1 comment:

Jenny said...

In our family everyone wants to be the first to come in & say we hear the spring peepers. usually my husband wins that one because he likes to take evening walks.

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