Oh, it isn’t that there aren’t signs of spring out there because there are.
I was in Elk Rapids Friday afternoon and came upon this yard peppered with tiny purple flowers. It was so striking traffic was stopped so people could snap the scene with their phones. I also have to say, these were the only flowers I’ve seen this spring.
Then on Saturday, between the Tigers’ doubleheader, I headed to farm country to look for more springlike signs. I couldn’t miss the semi-sunny, very warm afternoon. My car’s outside temperature sensor read 81 degrees. Gracie was along and she went nuts as we passed this family of Herefords enjoying the outdoors with their two young ones nearby.
Cows calve early, usually in February or March, so this one already had some size. I laughed watching it lick its chops.
We continued on to the Andersen Creek marsh and could see how flooded it was from winter snow melt and recent rains. Yet, I didn’t see a single duck or heron on the water. Not even geese, who seem to be everywhere.
I did get a wonderful surprise, however. As I turned around and headed away from the marsh, I heard the sound of a woodpecker drumming on a dead tree.
It was a Northern Flicker, returning from its southern migration spot. A definite sign of spring. While it’s typical of woodpeckers to hammer on dead wood, and this one can too, the Northern Flicker actually prefers to find food on the ground. Ants are its favorite food and it uses its long barbed tongue to lap them up.
I saw lots of tractors and other farm equipment out in yards with farmers tuning them up and test-driving them, but no actual plowing going on. Most fields were still tawny and untouched.
I did snap this pretty scene and noticed that one strip of land had been plowed. Probably a test run to see how firm the soil was and I could see the mud had won out.
The whole time I was out-and-about, I was accompanied by a chorus of spring peepers emanating from the many roadside bogs created from the melting snows. Certainly peeper chirping is another mark of spring! I stopped and used my long lens to try and spot one of these frogs, but at only an inch in size, and with their tan camouflaged-skin, they were impossible to see.
And back in the city, there are plenty of spring-like signs too. This male Goldfinch sports its spring plumage. Okay, I’ll get to my point. The calendar says it became spring on March 20. That was over a month ago. But spring is when there are blossoms, trees leaf out, grasses green up. And we’re not there yet, after five weeks. No, the season we’re in is a TRANSITION to spring.
This screenshot from my weather app with all the temperature variations illustrates my point that spring isn’t here yet. And, I think we need a name for this transitional season. If we lived in Alaska, for example, the local seasonal names better match the seasonal rhythms. “Break-up” occurs April into May when snow melts and the ground thaws, resulting in a time of puddles and mud. Alaskans even wear rubberized footwear called “break-up boots.”
In early-to-mid May, Alaskans next have what they call “Green-up.” It happens fast when leaf-out arrives almost overnight and transforms brown landscapes into green ones. That’s what we’re waiting for here too. Color!! I wonder what we could call this transitional seasonal here in Northwestern Lower Michigan. Calling it spring just gets us jazzed up for something that won’t be coming for weeks after the calendar date proclaims it’s spring. We might call it the Rollercoaster Season, with all its ups and downs. Or, based on how I’m feeling right now, sitting in my study on Tuesday afternoon as I watch snow fall heavily through the newly leafed maple tree, perhaps the Grumpy Season would be a better fit.