The floodgates of Spring have definitely begun to open this week as the warm temperatures continue here in Southwest Wisconsin. There was a light frost each morning, but it would quickly melt away and daytime temps were near 60. Each evening, just after sunset, two little brown bats fluttered around the house and yard. Nature has told them there are flying insects to catch, so it's time to catch them. If there were nothing for the bats to eat, they would still be asleep in the hollow trees, or under the roof boards of the old shed. The warm sun has brought out some new mosquitoes, flies, gnats, and some small moths. It's hard to believe that a flying bat could catch enough insects to get by in the third week of March. I've also seen several Wooly bear caterpillars and some small spiders.
Wednesday, the garter snakes were out in the sun for the first time. They seemed to be happy to just lie there and soak up the warm rays. It seems more like mid-April than March. A beautiful flock of Tundra swans flew over the house this morning. Their excited high-pitched calls as they grow ever closer to their nesting grounds in Canada to the Northwest. The swans may stop and spend a couple of days on the Mississippi River to rest and eat. I saw only a single flock of swans, which is unusual. They may have been going through at night with clear, starry skies and a breeze pushing them along from the Southeast.
Where there was snow on the ground only a week ago, there are now tiny green shoots of life. There isn't any frost in the soil, and little plants of Bee balm are starting to grow. By the end of June, they will be over 3 feet tall and full of rich, red blossoms. When I look at them now, at only an inch tall, I envision them in a few months with hummingbirds and butterflies hovering around the sweet, red flowers.
Across from the back door, a patch of Siberian iris have pushed their pointed green spears three inches above the ground. Their dark purple flowers will finally appear around the third week of June, and I'm looking forward to their special beauty. The tulips are also up and will bloom in two or three weeks. I've always been partial to the old fashioned flowers like tulips, daffodils and irises. They bring back memories of gardens and gardeners from many years past.
I'm not surprised to see the little sprouts of Bluebells as they peek through the dead leaves. They are the same color as purple cabbage now, but will turn green as they grow taller. In about a month they will be full of lovely blue flowers and are one of the first blue flowers of Spring. I've been waiting all winter for the first plants to come up through the soil. It was worth the wait. The tiny new shoots are the essence of Spring's new beginning.
The Canada geese spend their days together in pairs, preening in the sun. The female has built her nest, and lays a single large egg each day until she has a clutch to incubate. A month from now, she may be seen with eight little goslings in tow.
The resident woodchuck has spent the winter in his den under the pile of old boards behind the shed. Now he is awake and out in the yard, looking for something green to eat. A flicker called from the edge of the woods across the road. His rapid chatter let me know that he had returned and was excited about spending the summer here. A Red-headed woodpecker flew from a utility pole as I drove by. There was no mistaking his striking red head and black and white body plumage. They may be the most beautiful of all the woodpeckers and the most rarely seen.
Everywhere I look there is something new to see and hear. It's been the nicest March that I can remember. No snow, sleet, ice or mud—the uncomfortable elements that usually make March bittersweet. I won't foolishly predict what's in store for us in April, and like the wild ones, I'll take it one day at a time. Summer will come, as it always has.
I watched an eagle enjoying a bath in a pond made by a pool of standing water in a hayfield. He really seemed to be enjoying himself in the sunshine while cleaning his feathers at the same time. The bath will encourage the eagle to preen his feathers, making them waterproof. Then they'll help keep him warm and dry when those April showers come.
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