Volume XI, Issue 14 ~ April 3-9, 2003

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Bay Reflections

Springing into Life
by Steve Carr

Spring is finally here. I heard it arrive the other night. That’s the way it works around the Chesapeake Bay. You hear spring coming before you actually see it.

The geese are the first ones to spread the word, and they do so by announcing their departure. As the March moon brightens overhead, the geese get restless, and near the full moon they all take flight. You can hear the giant flocks passing over in the night as they head north to the Ungava Peninsula of northern Quebec.

The champion spring-callers are the peepers, those tiny tree-frogs that have spent the winter hunkered down in the mud awaiting the first thaws. A few days of temperatures in the 60s, and they’re off. As sundown approaches, the wetlands erupt in a cacophony of frogs in heat. From the smallest piece of wet ground behind the local shopping center to that swamp along the edge of the woods, they fill the night with their songs of lusty delight. You can hear them when you take out the trash or close the garage. It sounds like there must be a million of them. They are telling you that the earth’s juices are flowing — and winter is history.

After the geese have gone and the frogs have come a’courting, you can see spring as well as hear it. The snow drops and the crocuses are the first to come alive. The ground has started to lose its chill and they sparkle on the earth like little jewels. Snow drops are like a teasing taste of spring.

As the ground continues to thaw, the robins arrive in great flocks. Our lawns are suddenly alive with these hopping, orange-breasted hunters, and no worm is safe. It’s wonderful to watch them cock their heads to the side, listening intently for the burrowing worms. Can they really hear those worms?

The forsythia is the first bush to flower; its bright yellow blossoms turning the drab brown landscape into a riotous splash of color. You don’t realize how much forsythia there is around here until it blooms; then you realize that it’s almost everywhere, running along the edges of roads, in the woods, bordering lawns.

The first tree to sprout its blossoms is the red maple. While all the other trees are looking gray and forlorn, one day you notice the faintest touch of red outlining the skyline. The maples are on the march, and nothing can stop them — neither a blizzard nor a bone-chilling frost. Maples are the color kings. Their red blossoms harken in spring, and their red and yellow leaves crown the fall season.

One of my favorite early bloomers is the weeping willow. They stand out this time of year like lacy green curtains blowing in the breeze. The ones along College Creek can almost take your breath away as you come into Annapolis. They seem to wave at you in welcome.

I think the most amazing thing about spring in these parts is how it can go from empty to full so fast. One day, everything is skeletal — the trees looking like scarecrows, the woods all open and walkable. In a matter of a few short weeks, this place turns into a veritable jungle, all covered in honeysuckle and green briar, the woods an impenetrable thicket.

Springtime around the Bay is a roller coaster of weather. One day it’s hot, the next cold. The one constant in this mix is the wind. You can pretty much count on it being windy almost every day. Maybe that’s why so many of us like to sail.

But when all is said and done, there is one sure way to tell that spring is finally here along Chesapeake Bay. In fact, as I look out my window right now, I realize that I can’t escape the obvious signals. My lawn is starting to look like the lower 40, and it’s time to either get some sheep or break out the lawn mower from winter storage and start cutting the grass again.

Yep. Spring is finally here.


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Last updated April 3, 2003 @ 1:57am