Prelude: Awakening

Red-winged Blackbird

Spring! At long last, winter begins to loosen its icy grip and allow hints of warmth and life to break through its frozen edges. There’s a collective sigh, a release of long-held breath as we all stretch towards the first glimpses of vernal sunshine, working three months’ chill from our bones and reassembling the pieces of our frayed sanity. And though the capricious New England climate often presents us with April snow, it’s the last gasp of a vanishing season, sound and fury signifying nothing, winter’s swan song fading into the overture of spring.

Cedar Waxwing

Cedar Waxwing

People mark the changeover from winter in different ways: some follow the calendar, others look for the crocuses’ first tentative aboveground explorations, still others await the emergence of slumbering hibernators. For me, the onset of spring is heralded by the distinctive call and flashy epaulettes of the Red-winged Blackbird, Mother Nature’s midwife at spring’s birth. Over the last week, the neighborhood’s resounded with their insistent “conk-a-ree,” and our yard has been graced by several of these wonderful birds. Others have come with them: Robins are back in force, and Cedar Waxwings, too, with their paraffin-dipped feathers. Turkey Vultures soar overhead on upswept wings, and Grackles, reflecting purple and green from an impossibly glossy black, have returned to feast at our feeders. All bear the promise of warmth and renewal, and presage the arrival of yet more. This is but the vanguard of a feathered flood: warblers, orioles, and tanagers; Chipping Sparrows and Broad-winged Hawks; Northern Mockingbirds and Brown Thrashers; plovers, terns, and sandpipers—all headed our way, and each one refreshing our spirits and reawakening in us the joy of being gloriously, wonderfully alive.

American Robin

American Robin

This… this is what life’s all about. Now let’s get out there and celebrate it.

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