April brings us hope. The winter of 2009-2010 fades from memory. Melting snow triggers the emergence of morels and ramps. The run-off from the massive snowpack is well on its journey to the Mississippi Delta. Streams return to normal flow. Songbirds return, turkeys gobble and fish become active. It happens every year. Most of you live in the area where spring begins in April. Where I live and play, spring doesn’t begin until May. There isn’t much difference in the mountains; between March and April, except for a few more teaser days. Yeah, I know that the official date of the Spring Equinox is March 20. That is OK, if you live in the Deep South. My belief is that it isn’t spring, until I see my first hummingbird of the year.
The only thing that I have to complain about; regarding spring, is that it doesn’t last long enough. Back in the days when gas was cheap and life was good, I became spoiled. I knew that I would be in a palmetto swamp; in Macon County, Alabama on March 20. My job was guiding turkey hunters at one of the premier hunting lodges of the South. Turkey season ran until April 30. Alabama’s spring didn’t quite last that long. Sweltering summer heat usually began around the third week of April. I could always tough it out, knowing that I would be arriving in the Allegheny Highlands just in time for spring. I would hunt in the mountains of West Virginia and Virginia and follow spring north, usually ending up in New York or Vermont as the dogwood blossoms faded away.
What is the first thing you think of, when you hear the word spring? I think green. Not just any green; the green of emerging leaves. I then have an image of white; no not the white shimmer of snow that we have all grown tired of, the white bloom of serviceberry and the dogwood florets, with edges of brown. Honey bees on crocus bloom. The chorus of singing toads, gobbling turkeys and the dreaded irritation of a string-trimmer are all sure signs of spring. I think of the smell of freshly mowed grass and the aroma of bacon and ramps, wafting from a streamside campsite. I think of activity. People, who haven’t been visible; during the previous five months, magically appear in their lawns and gardens. Birds busily gather materials for nest building. The woods come alive with song. Aquatic insects awaken from near dormancy, their activity increases with each rising degree of water temperature. Fish begin feeding after the long winter; gaining strength for the upcoming spawns. These are a few of my thoughts of spring. I hope they make you think of flowers, baby birds and warm spring rain.
Spring is without a doubt, my favorite season. I would be happy if summer’s heat never arrived and the dull gray days of winter only lasted for a few weeks. Now, I believe I will take my Vitamin D pill and start doing my taxes.
This article first appeared in Two-Lane Livin April 2010.