I saw him for the first time today, sitting on a branch in my backyard. He had a bright red breast and there was no mistake. I saw my first robin of the year: the official harbinger of spring! It’s still cold and the wind bit our faces on a walk today, but the robin makes me feel better.
The robin is a sign that the White Witch of Narnia lore is losing her icy grip on Southern Ontario. He helps us remember what life is like without compact, dirty snowbanks, slippery, impassable sidewalks, and a cloud of contagion circling the house. We start to imagine life without sweaters, snowpants, jackets, hats, mitts, scarves and boots to wrestle on to our children and into carseats or strollers, and replace them all with simply ……. sandals and sunhats. We start to imagine warm spring breezes carrying the smell of lilac blossoms, and markets full of fresh local produce.
There are other signs too. The giant pile of snow at the end of the street has decreased to such an extent that we can actually see oncoming traffic, and don’t take our lives in our hands whenever we drive. Our backyard is slowly revealing and melting previously well-hidden doggie landmines, and only those sporting rubber boots should really venture out there. And, on a walk, we saw one, yes, one little bulb peeking through a bare patch in the snow. Last year we planted buckets of bulbs, and I am eagerly anticipating their emergence. One friend told me he has a small garden that actually has blooming crocuses thanks to a unique microclimate situation.
“Signs of spring” walks are fun to take with kids. They are often excellent at noticing small details you may not see otherwise. The changing of the seasons is something I would miss dearly if I lived in a different climate.
Another one of my favourite things to do in early spring is bring the kids to a local wetland to listen to the spring peepers. There are few sounds more haunting or magical than the deafening chorus of these tiny amphibians at dusk. At one spot we found, you can barely hear each other speak. Unless you are lucky enough to find a peeper and can see for yourself, it is hard to believe the volume that comes out of something smaller than your fingernail.
So, goodbye winter! You have not been kind to my family this season. Perhaps we can re-negotiate next year.
Mr. Robin, I welcome you with open arms!
What signs of spring have you seen so far?
What are you eagerly awaiting?