Every year I find myself surprised by the tremendous impact that the return of the birds has on my frosty, adapted-for-winter psyche. In years past, I’ve found the realization sudden – walking out the door to be bombarded with the joyful chorus of bird song that seemed to have appeared overnight. This year, the protective layers of ice first began their thaw as we saw the Lovely Ladies return to their post of canvassing the yard. Our Ladies despise the snow and will have nothing to do with it, cocooning themselves in the coop while we cocoon ourselves in the house. We lead these separate lives all winter long, commingling only for brief periods each day to exchange food and water for eggs that have hopefully not frozen. As we adapt to winter’s daily grind, we slowly come to forget how much these Ladies add to our sense of home until, one balmy day, they make their exit from the coop and take to the yard again.
And then! We start shedding the layers we’ve huddled under for months. We open the doors, venture out for longer and longer, shake out the rugs and the darkness of winter and beg spring to take a more permanent hold. We feel our heels sink into the yielding, saturated earth and have no trouble making the imaginative leap to the garden work just around the corner. We don our puddle jumpers and find the sand toys revealed in the thaw and rediscover the simple joys of water and mud and splashing. And in an encouraging moment that banishes all fear of a perpetual winter, we are greeted with the return of the cranes, flying overhead and returning to their summer home.
Most people I talk to lament the drudgery of this winter, filing it away in the Very Long category, declaring their patience with it utterly gone. I can’t say that I agree – I’ve had a rather consuming diversion to the tedium of the season and a constant source of supplemental heat. The mandate to turn inward and tend to the hearth has allowed me to prepare our home for our family’s expansion without the pull of outside obligations. Being pregnant in the winter is far, far superior to carrying in the dog days of summer. File that away if you find yourself mindfully contemplating a gestation of your own.
Here in Wisconsin, we’re wise enough to take these Spring Teasers as they come, drinking every last drop of the day, knowing full well that the night will likely returns us to frosty mornings and flurries dusting the landscape. Slowly, though, the winter’s strength is waning and the promise of spring is gaining momentum in the whispered cooing of chickens.
And now I’m off to answer the door. It looks like we have a visitor…