Awakening Spring

Winter hangs on stubbornly this year. Yet, in spite of lingering snow falls and temps hovering in the low 30s, the natural world slowly awakens. During the night I heard a flock of tundra swans call to each other as they migrated north. Robins carol and cardinals sing in the early morning darkness. Later in the day, dark-eyed juncos trill as they search the sunny exposed parts of our garden for last year’s seeds. The tiny birds have been daily visitors since October and soon will depart for their summer home in Canada.

Dark-eyed juncos (Junco hyemalis) will soon migrate to their breeding territories in Canada.

Ivory-petaled snowdrops are ready to bloom.The first Siberian squill bulbs poked through the cold, wet soil of our back garden at the same time as the tiny, sharp leaves of iris. Silver maple buds glow rosy and round in the late afternoon sunlight and the soft, furry catkins of quaking aspen have emerged.

A snowdrop (Galanthus nivalis) blossoms in a sunny spot beneath a spruce tree.

Quaking aspen (Populus tremuloides) flowers begin to emerge.

I want this slow showing of spring to speed up, but it should not be hurried. Soon enough I will want the season to slow down — it all happens in such a rush once it gains momentum in May, and hurdles toward blossoming, fruiting, and autumn once again. I have learned that, as with all of life’s special times, it is better to wait for, notice and welcome each change; to savor the whole unfolding of new life.

Crocus chrysanthus ‘ladykiller’ usually bloom in April.

Early Spring

Spring is slow in coming this year; but over the past two weeks, the awakening of life has softened the dingy, post-winter landscape.  Summer bird migrants add their songs to the morning chorus; maples, Canada cherries and other trees bud; chipmunks dart about in the yard; and the early spring bulbs begin to bloom — among them my favorite: the beautiful blue squill.

Siberian Squill (Scilla Siberica)

Siberian Squill (Scilla siberica).

Striped Squill (Puschkinis scilloides).

Striped Squill (Puschkinis scilloides).

Crocus buds (Crocus spp 'ladykiller).

Crocus buds (Crocus species ‘Ladykiller’).

Crocus blossoms (Crocus spp 'ladykiller')

Crocus blossoms (Crocus species ‘Ladykiller’)

Red Maple Flowers (Acer rubra).

Red Maple flowers (Acer rubrum).

Canada cherry (Prunus virginiana 'Canada Red') leaves and flower buds

Canada Cherry (Prunus virginiana ‘Canada Red’) leaves and flower buds.

White-throated Sparrow (Zonotrichia albicollis) © T.M. Murray 2014; used with permission.

White-throated Sparrow (Zonotrichia albicollis) © T.M. Murray 2014; used with permission.

White-throated sparrows are migrating north and add a melodious, clear whistling to early spring mornings.  Once you’ve heard the song, it’s easy to remember.  Many people liken it to the phrase, “My Sweet Canada, Canada, Canada”.  This sparrow has a bright white throat, a black-and-white striped crown and a bright yellow spot between the eyes and bill.  Listen to and watch a white-throated sparrow whistle its lovely, plaintive song.

 

Eastern chipmunks (Tamias striatus) are out of their dens.

Eastern Chipmunks (Tamias striatus) are out of their winter dens.

American robins (Turdus migratorius) are building nests.

American Robins (Turdus migratorius) are building nests.

Newly opened Glory-of-the-Snow (Chinodoxa).

Newly opened Glory-of-the-Snow (Chinodoxa).

A patch of striped squill and Siberian squill in our garden.

A patch of Striped Squill and Siberian Squill in our garden.

Ready for Spring

The sun rides higher in the sky and daylight lasts almost 11 hours, but those are just about the only signs of spring — and most of us long for a warm-up that stretches beyond a meager two days.  Last week brought “bookend” snowstorms:  6.4 inches of new snow on Monday and 9.9 inches on Thursday/Thursday night, for a total of 16.3 inches measured at nearby Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport.

As we awaited the city plows, and dug out our sidewalks, driveways and garage aprons, the meteorologists promised an end to the snow and another plunge to below-zero temperatures for at least the next week.  (In St. Paul, the average daytime high is +31°F and the nighttime low is +15°F for late February.  Today’s predicted high is +8°F with a low of -13°F.)
Fresh snow blankets white cedars in our backyard.

Heavy snow blankets white cedars in our backyard.

Ice and snow cover black spruce and a red maple in our front yard.

Ice and snow cover a black spruce and a red maple in our front yard.

How I pine for the first crocus to poke through the soil and open its delicate cup-shaped flower to the early spring sun!  But, with at least two feet of snow, plus the snow from sidewalk shoveling heaped on top of the garden, it’s likely to be several weeks before the snow melts and sunlight warms the soil.  As soon as I spy the first patch of dirt, I’ll be out every afternoon peering at the muddy earth for the first tiny, reddish-green tip of a crocus to push through to the light and signal the reawakening of life.  What signals spring to you?

In 2013, our first crocus bloomed on April 20th in our north-facing garden).  It is

In 2013, the first crocus bloomed on April 20th in our north-facing garden. (iPhone 4)

© Beth and Nature, Garden, Life, 2013-2014.  All photographs and text are created by Beth unless specifically noted otherwise.  Excerpts and links may be used as long as full and clear credit is given to Beth and Nature, Garden, Life with specific direction to the original content.  Please do not use or duplicate material from Nature, Garden, Life without written permission from Beth.