Getting a 'Spring' in my step


Time Pieces


Oh my! I’m kind of in a kerfuffle!

But not really.

But, yes. Part of me is still a bit worried.

About what, you ask?

Well, it dawned on me Monday afternoon that just because we turned the page to April, doesn’t necessarily mean that our last freeze of the season is past.

Remember? We had thunder in January.

And, there is that old adage that if it thunders in January, then we are going to have a freeze on that same date in April.

Therein lies the problem!

I forgot to write down the exact day that I heard thunder. I think it might have been around the second week of the new year, but failed to mark the calendar.

 I’m not much for believing in these tales and claim to not be superstitious, but I do try to keep a mental note and hold my breath until the possible day has passed.

So, with today being April 4, I guess I will just have to hold my breath for 26 more days before I can breathe a sigh of relief.

I think we will all agree that it’s been a long, cold winter.

 The first thing I did back on Groundhog Day on Feb. 2, was to turn to the weather channel on television to see if the groundhog had seen his shadow. The “official” announcement was made that he had indeed seen his shadow and that we would have six more weeks of the cold stuff. So, six weeks would make that around March 16.

We’ve made it past then and Holy Week last week with no weather issues, since the “old timers” always warn that there’s always that chance of a strong cold front during Holy Week.

Besides the thunder theory, Holy Week cold spell and the fact that the groundhog saw his shadow on Feb. 2, there are a number of other tales people keep an eye out for when predicting the arrival of spring.

For several weeks already, the mesquite trees have been sprouting new green foliage. That’s another of those beliefs
— that as long as the mesquites are still sleeping, it’s too early to do any serious planting chores.

Same goes with the pecan trees. Some have popped out in greenery while others are just beginning to open their eyes again.

I haven’t paid any attention to the Native pecans. Seems they are the most predictable.

And, what about the Western Meadowlarks? During the winter time, it’s common to see swarms of those grayish-brownish birds with pale, golden breasts sailing around the countryside.

They’ve gone north again, only to return in autumn, and in their place, the Robins have returned and can be seen hopping around on lawns, looking for grubs and insects.

Another sign that spring is here is the arrival of the Scissor-tailed Flycatcher that likes to perch on utility lines along the highway. Two weeks ago, I was coming home from Doss and spotted one perched on the power line in the neighbor’s pasture.

Years ago, my grandmother wouldn’t plant her cucumber seeds until the “Scissor-Tails” had returned from their South American winter vacation.

Another predictor of the arrival of spring is the return of the turkey vultures, or as we call them, the red-headed buzzards. Their counterparts, the black-headed buzzards, never leave during the winter, but the red-headed friends fly south to warmer climates and return when they feel it is safe.

One afternoon, a weekend or so ago, I heard a flock of cranes. Apparently, their formation had gotten split up by the wind currents and they were having a hard time getting reorganized to continue their long trip back up north after spending the summer along the Texas coast.

And, the Purple Martins are back, also. Two weeks ago, a pair returned from their trip south, and several days ago, I could hear that another “couple” had rejoined them for the season.

Martins are one of those feathered creatures that are a delight to hear even if they can’t be seen. Their deep-throated “chortle” as they dip and soar through the evening sky looking for bugs and mosquitoes is quite calming.

And the hummingbirds arrived a week earlier than usual. I filled the feeder on Friday afternoon, and by Sunday morning when I was leaving for church, it was almost empty again.

And, another sign that spring is here, even though they are unwelcomed, are those nasty Barn Swallows.

Yes, I saw one Sunday afternoon, so, it won’t be long before they try to plaster their nests at the most inconvenient places they can find.

Last year, one of those nasty rascals finally succeeded in sticking her nest around the lamp shade on the front porch light. As the season wore on, one day, I could see three tiny heads with bright yellow beaks peeking over the edge of the nest. I’m sure it got rather warm in their little mud “casa” when the light was turned on.