It was a beautiful night to just relax on the back porch. The moonlight cast long shadows across the landscape, and a Barred owl gave his "Who-awh.." from up the valley. Three hours after sunset, the temperature was still over fifty degrees. This would be the first night in 7 months that there wouldn't be a fire in the woodstove. It's nice to be able to leave the windows open during the day, after 7 months of wood smoke; it's even nicer to be able to sit out on the porch after dark in my shirtsleeves.
From the shadows comes the continuous song of a Saw-whet owl. He seems to be singing along with the Spring peepers near the little pond upstream. The little owl's "Too-Too-Too-Too" goes well with the peeping of the tiny frogs.
Spring has brought many more night sounds. Now that it's warm there's something to hear at any moment. A pack of coyotes, inspired by the moon, give their rowdy calls, a half-mile to the east. They get another pack singing a mile to the south. The excited howls and yips last only a minute or so, then the coyotes go back to their night patrol.
A couple of little brown bats flutter across the yard in the moonlit sky, and the Barred owl gives another long call, reminding me that I had found a special feather on my morning walk. I was a single, barred, tail feather from a Barred owl. I wondered if the molted feather belonged to this same owl.
Just as the evening sounds are getting full, the morning chorus of bird songs seems to expand a little more each day. Right after sun-up I heard the sound of another new spring bird: "Drink-your-tea, Drink-your-tea!" There was a striking male Rufus-sided towhee checking out the ground under the bird feeder.
This time of year I like to divide some of the flowerbeds of perennials. I've been moving clumps of Day lilies, New England asters, Coneflowers and Bee balm. It's a lot of work, but a good way to spread the flowers around without buying them. Spreading the flowers around means more butterflies and more Hummingbirds, too. With more of these three things to enjoy, life can only get better.
It rained a few days ago, and the pastures seemed to green up overnight. The morning sun brought crocuses and grape hyacinth to bloom at the edge of the yard. That's all that's blooming here now, just a little splash of yellow and blue flowers only a couple of inches tall—but it's a beautiful start. The clumps of dark green leaves of the Blue bells are starting to peek through the moist soil. Soon they will make a carpet of blue at the northeast corner of the yard. When the leaves of the oak trees are as big as a squirrel's ear, the Morel mushrooms can be found, so the story goes. Once the new green shoots appear, there's always something to look forward to.
The lilac bushes are beginning to show signs of new life; their leaf buds are swelling and soon will burst open. With luck, the frost won't burn back the lilac buds this year. I like the fragrance of lilacs as much as the purple flowers. So far, spring has been moving along at a very nice pace, without surprises. Still, I wouldn't be surprised to get a brief return visit from the "S-word"—a last reminder of the fading days of winter as we dream in warm days of things to come.
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