From the slow slumber of winter, it’s awakening. Nodding its groggy head with the newfound warmth of morning, yawning in tiny blooms of crocus. It stretches its cramped arms of bark with new buds. The world is awakening.
The first sounds of the returning red-winged blackbirds, chanting their happy chorus, reminiscing with each other about the anticipated arrival of clear, burbling streams, fuzzy cattail perches and country fields. They flit about, leaving but a memory of a red wing in your mind, as you are left with only the sweet sound of their countryside harmony and their shadows flying low overhead.
In the fields, new baby calves shake on spindle legs, still wet with newness. They nestle down in the rows of hay meant for feeding, hiding from the chilly spring air. By afternoon they are playing, kicking up heels, teasing the tall grass on the other side of the fence. Other soon-to-be mommas sway heavily up and down the fields, their bellies stretched to near bursting. Soon the entire field will be alive with scampering babies playing hide and seek under the watchful eyes of their relieved mothers.
Near another fence, the soft, velvety muzzles of horses seek new shoots of grass low upon the ground blindly, with only the tender bending of short green stems to guide their craving mouths. They steal them up before the stalks can stretch their new arms, relishing in the sweet freshness of spring. They trot. They run. They, too, kick their heels up in the warm brightness, celebrating the season’s return.
Up the blacktop road a ways, a fuzzy orange and black survivor of a caterpillar winds his way across the warm asphalt as if guided not by sight or sound, but by the last warm rays of the afternoon casting their heat upon the deserted road. He inches his way across the double yellow line and disappears down the other side into the barrow ditch, escaping traffic and birds with their eyes out for a quick, insect meal. Had the cold air of winter stunted his metamorphosis? Maybe he had been awakened by the warm spring sun, desperately searching for his caterpillar friends, only to find they were gone. Metamorphosed, wings dried and tested, flight plans registered, they had embarked upon their final lift off last fall. He had somehow survived in his juvenile state, now longing for the instinctual cross continental flight he had missed with his fellow flyers. With non-refundable tickets, he may find himself living out the second stage of his life in the same place he was born.
A tractor lifts up clouds of dust in another field, sounds of chains clinking and a diesel engine’s hum rising up in a swirl around it. Winter’s last remnants being dragged, and pulled, broken up to give way to spring’s new green grass.
Around another corner, a black and white patrols the fenceline. This patrolman doesn’t have a fancy car, blinking lights or a radio system. This officer is equipped only with a black and white tail, that when lifted, warns all in the vicinity to leave quickly. A skunk. His nose to the ground, he sniffs his way along the fence here and there and back, smell guiding his travails. The return of his pungent smell as you drive along in the country is a sure sign that spring has come, with only sweeter days and warm sunshine ahead.
Prairie dogs, awakened by the recent spring melt which floods their shallow holes, stand at attention, whistling calls back and forth to each other. They scurry low to the ground, standing straight up to chew on the end of a piece of last summer’s tall grass, throwing it over their furry shoulders when finished. Others are head first into their holes, legs digging frantically, clouds of dust and piles of dirt rising up behind them. There’s work to be done.
The world is awakening. Slowly, slowly, the sun has beckoned us all out of our winter depths, and into the fresh, spring air with an enchanting, seasonal magnetism that cannot be ignored. We are still timid, fearful of a late spring snow, and the bite of a cool morning’s frost. Before long, winter will be but a memory, easily surpassed by green grassy meadows, baby robins hopping along the ground in search of worms and warm days topped off by nights scented with the purity of only coolness. Nights where the blanket of a million stars above seems close enough to reach out and grab, where we’ll be tempted to steal a few galactic sparkles away into a lint-bottomed pocket, to be pulled out and remembered for always. It is just beginning.
The world is awakening.