There is a joke that Michigan has eleven stages of “spring.” The first hints of sunlight and warm breeze that comes in February is widely acknowledged to be Mother Nature just messing with us. True spring won’t arrive until April, if then. Still, the days are actually starting to get noticeably longer, and the local wildlife is moving around. There were deer tracks everywhere, and areas of snow pawed away in search of tufts of grass or other bits of green after last week’s thaw. It’s breeding season for the skunks, although their amorous activity is a nocturnal dance. Their assignations are more smelt than seen the next morning. Birdsong filled the air on this walk. I could pick out a blue jay, a dark-eyed junco, and a gold finch out from the chorus. And, of course, the ubiquitous sparrows and chickadees.
The sun is getting warmer, but the wind distinctly is not. Still, the increasing warmth during the day means sap is running. Many of my neighbors are tapping trees and boiling down this year’s batch of maple syrup. In truth, we could probably wish for crisper nights to extend the sap run and keep it good quality for as long as possible. Fast, warm springs make for a short syrup season.
This week’s anticipated ice storm is likely to take down more than a few branches. We have quite a few Ash trees that have been ravaged by the Emerald Ash Borer, but have not yet succumbed. A heavy coat of ice may do in more than a few of them.
Still, there is plenty of shelter beneath the Russian Olives and Honeysuckle shrubs in the meadow for the wild rabbits, pheasant, squirrels, and other furry denizens to ride out the weather.