Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Spring Signs

(Note: Since Sarah and I are traveling today, I have pre-scheduled a piece by a Guest Blogger: my younger sister, Ruth. Every once in awhile, I like to feature her unique, refreshing style of writing here at Smithellaneous. And since we’re in the wonderful Spring/Summer, this piece is especially timely. Enjoy!)

A robin showed up today, unperturbed by wind and snow. Fat in the belly and fleet on the wing, it hopped about in a serious manner chirping out occasional notes full of sweet tones, telling me that winter was on the way out, no two ways about it. He pecked and tugged at a rotten apple then suddenly stood at attention, alert and dignified. Robins never seem to smile, only to march and salute, march and salute, like old-time army generals.

A dozen more of its rusty-toned, finely-vested cronies swiftly settled in the muddy patches of open lawn, keeping politely out of each others’ way, discreetly checking out the sorry condition of turf and leaf under their nimble feet.

Other varieties of winged creatures fluttered with noisy energy around the apple tree, causing a pleasing effect of twittering commotion and confusion. Faithful chickadees and nuthatches perched precariously upside down or any other conceivable direction. The ever-present shadows of juncos were sedately doing ground duty, and a large flock of common redpolls and purple finches charged the feeders, not to be outdone by a swarm of subtle, color-changing goldfinches.

One hairy and two downy woodpeckers came in for a suet snack, while six pesky blue jays crashed the party with screeching alarms for everyone to “clear the area and hit the deck,” as they settled in the top branches, pleased at the effect they gave of efficient, airway- patrolling policemen.

Several mourning doves cooed companionably and were almost outdone by zealous starlings chattering in the cedar tree. A single red-winged blackbird cheered the chilly world with optimistic renditions of “Chunk-a-lee.” A lone bald eagle sailed regally over the western ridge, flanked by an awkward gathering of a dozen geese trailed in his majestic wake.

Three pair of cardinals lurked on the fringes of the crowd, waiting for a decent interval of quiet and sensibility to provide leeway for their shy natures to advance into the unwanted spotlight. Blaring crows crossed over now and then, never stopping but always heading for more exciting fields and woods, looking for the least bit of action with which to amuse their curious natures.

The drumming of a ruffed grouse, somewhat muffled in the deep woods, coupled in rich harmony with the trickling stream of snowmelt running merrily in the ditches. A ringed-necked pheasant zoomed over the temporary spring stream and settled at the roadside, pecking gravel and strutting a bit.

The prize of the day was the momentary sighting of a sand hill crane, high overhead, sending out a loud, rattling call. Huge and ancient-looking, these swamp birds are in the kingly line- up of bird royalty. Closer to home and prancing in the nearby field, a flock of turkeys made their courtly appearance, and the many guttural gobbles made a nice addition to the springtime, wild orchestra.

Hearing and seeing this invigorating display of winged, theatrical performances inspired me to emerge from my winter den and venture forth to walk in the sunlit air and refresh my weary soul with the positive, enthusiastic, welcoming committee of Spring--the arrival of the songbirds.

I am still keeping a lookout for the rest to join the general host and complete the season. Bluebirds should arrive any day now, followed closely by rose-breasted grosbeaks, orioles, and hummingbirds. And for good, reliable rounding-out in the percussion section, the steady beat of spring peepers will add a sweet and humble tone.

Last and best will be the almost invisible whippoorwill, rarely seen but well heard, giving the warming spring nights a compelling and haunting song, old as the hills and eternally faithful.

All of this is truly a gift to be treasured in the ears and heart--the audible love signs of nature, the signs of spring.

5 Had Something To Say (Just click here!):

Anonymous said...

Very peaceful, lovely writing. I enjoyed reading this, Ruth! Reminds me of the late Gladys Taber's writing - which I absolutely adore. Have you read any of her books? If not, give them a try - I'll bet you'd really enjoy them.

Becky, glad you're doing so well. Hope things went well today also. You're all still in my thoughts and prayers.

Hugs, (Gentle ones)

Sue G said...

I love writers who can capture the spectacular aspects of nature. Such a seemingly easy thing to do, but something I never mastered in my own writing.

You do it beautifully. You make the sights and sounds of the changing season come alive with hope and renewal.

Life, like nature, is cyclical. And, for me, that gives me great hope.

Thanks for the beautiful update.

Anonymous said...

Yay, Ruth! I love your writing!

Pam D said...

Beautifully descriptive! And such an amazing variety... where are you to be able to get ruffed grouse, pheasant, and bald eagles? I think I would have to sit on the porch all day and do nothing but watch and listen if I lived where you do!

Anonymous said...

Wow! where does Ruth live? beautiful description!

I have five feeders in my backyard, and love seeing all my yellow finches and cardinals. ... occasional woodpeckers, not too many robins, and one hummingbird this week who didn't seem to mind my being 10 feet away. I've actually had two hawks and their babies visit for three springs/summer.

mrs pam