The robins came early this year. They arrived at the end of January and are still running through the yards. It has been unusually cold this year and winter has been long. But then I saw a bluebird in mid-February, and today I saw a pair. In the morning, the male cardinals are lustily singing. Blueberries bushes are blooming pink and white all over. When the road crews came by and massacred the trees under the power lines, they did one thing good - they exposed the bushes to the sun and they are being grateful this year. Last year I collected nearly a quart of blueberries. It was a bad year for them.
Today I went over to the water at 12:15 p.m. and took some chicken scraps for the turtles and the fish. The swamp is beginning to green below the straw-colored cattails that rustle like paper in the wind.
I just stood there looking for otters. No otters, but something big jumped or dove, and I suspect it was a big turtle. I saw the bubble trail. It didn't come for my chicken scraps, but the bream did - shot out from downstream in the clear, dark water.
Then from the northwest came six wood ducks flying at triple time with the wind behind them heading downstream over Econfina to Bear Creek. Suddenly four veered off sharply and came down 50 feet away. The two coots who had been dabbling left the area, paddling upstream toward where I stood on the dock.
There were two hens, an immature male (by his dull coloration and his well-developed crest) and an adult male. Beautiful. If I'd had my camera, I couldn't have caught them. They are very wary. I believe these four live in the little canal where my neighbors live, because if I'm walking there I often disturb two to four of them, and never had seen them this close in 20 years.
There were purple martin scouts flying high. A vulture cruised motionless, allowing the wind to take it. Songbirds are all over - the swamp is singing.
The pull of spring is irresistible. There are tiny buds on the redbud tree, and on the pear tree.
Though the weather killed nearly all my potted plants this year despite being covered, some show signs of life. The hand of nature beckons and the earth rejoices and does its bidding.
This is my favorite season; the time of emergence, rebirth, unbridled joy.
Don't give up, even if you're snowbound.
Spring is on its way.