It’s coming. Have you noticed?
Forget the scraps of snow still visible in the shadier corners of the prairie.
Overlook the still-cold temperatures.
The first signs of spring are everywhere. Sunrises are earlier.
Sunsets are later.
In our gardens and yards, daffodils, crocus, and hyacinths knife up their bundles of leaves.
Temperatures tease us by briefly climbing into the upper 50s. Snowdrops heed the signal; offer their first blooms. Who will break the news to them that a winter storm is in the forecast, only days away?
All our glimpses of early spring are not sweetness and light. This week, warm winds howled up to 60 mph across the prairie. A spring tantrum, more than a winter storm.
No longer frozen, the prairie paths shout “mud season!” Go for a hike, and your boots slurp, slurp, slurp with every step.
The ice that limned the creeks and streams has disappeared … temporarily, anyway. Water runs fast with snowmelt; cold and clear.
Faintly familiar, but long-gone birds reappear and begin adding notes to the tallgrass soundtrack. Killdeer. The first tentative notes of red-winged blackbirds. Winter’s juncos still hang around, not getting the spring memo. But give them a few weeks and they’ll pack their bags and head north. Soon the dickcissels and bob-o-links will be back on their regular tallgrass perches.
In the last days of February, I study the prairie sky for migrating snow geese. I see them thick as storm clouds on weather radar reports. Yet, the sky remains empty, except for a few ubiquitous Canada geese.
Nonetheless, I like knowing the snowies are flying somewhere above me. A sign of spring. On the move north.
On the move, like the life of the prairie. The end of one season;
… the beginning of something new.
Yes, there will be more snow and ice. February’s full moon is named by Native American’s as the “Full Snows Moon.” I watched it rise last night; a harbinger of more snow and cold on the way.
But we’ve gotten our first whiff of spring. And it is good.
All photos copyright Cindy Crosby (top to bottom): Rice-Lake Danada prairie planting, Forest Preserve District of DuPage County, Wheaton, IL; trail, Schulenberg Prairie, The Morton Arboretum, Lisle, IL; sunrise looking east from author’s backyard prairie patch, Glen Ellyn, IL; sunset, Nachusa Grassland, Franklin Grove, IL; crocus shoots, author’s backyard, Glen Ellyn, IL; snowdrops, The Morton Arboretum, Lisle, IL; storm over the Schulenberg Prairie, The Morton Arboretum, Lisle, IL; muddy trail, Schulenberg Prairie, The Morton Arboretum, Lisle, IL; Willoway Brook, Schulenberg Prairie savanna, The Morton Arboretum, Lisle, IL; dickcissel, Nachusa Grasslands, Franklin Grove, IL; Canada geese over the Schulenberg Prairie, The Morton Arboretum, Lisle, IL; snow geese and Ross’s geese, Bosque del Apache, San Antonio, New Mexico; sunset, Russell Kirt Prairie East, College of DuPage, Glen Ellyn, IL (looking west); full moon, author’s backyard prairie, Glen Ellyn, IL.