The precipitation can’t decide if it wants to be snow or rain. There are new bird songs in the air, we might call them “courting songs”. The deer begin to emerge from deep woods cover to graze on southern slopes that are bare of snow. Spring is emerging, based on the observable signs.

Eranthis, Galanthus, and Vinca Minor

Increasing daylight also heralds the arrival of spring. In the Northern Hemisphere that amount of possible sunshine accelerates as weeks pass after the Winter Solstice. At times it appears that the sunlight is growing almost exponentially, some weeks near the Equinox by almost 30 minutes over 7 days.

As we see that spring may truly be on the way, many of us breathe a sigh of relief. Some years, winter stays a long time and snow blankets the earth for many months. Other years it seems that while snow may be scarce, the attendant darkness and cold seep into our psyches to keep us in a mental winter.

Each day that the sun shines, it feels like there is more and more heat in it, rather than solely more light. That heat works to melt the snow and to warm our hearts. Bird species that have been absent for the winter return to the area, eating at the feeders and fields in preparation for building nests and raising young. Animals like raccoons, skunks, opossums, and woodchucks arise from their winter torpor and begin replenishing their fat reserves. Snow melt begins filling streams and rivers with urgency and deciduous trees start to show buds. Experienced foragers begin checking their favorite secret locations for ramps and fiddleheads.

The signs of spring emerging surround us in the natural world. It is our job to open eyes and ears to recognize and celebrate this seasonal change. It’s time to shake off the rust of winter.

Ramps (Allium tricoccum) in the woods