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THE CITY REBORN FROM THE ASHES OF AMERICA'S MOST DISASTROUS FOREST FIRE
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From My Window

Issue Date: April 4, 2019

The Mercy of Spring

By Jane Thibodeau Martin,

It was a rough February, and the first part of March wasn't a whole lot better, but spring has arrived and even the chilly mornings are full of the symptoms. The first rain showers sent me crashing to the wet ice, but the birds no longer needed the heated water bowl on the patio. The large, convivial flocks of birds that previously fed in peace on scattered sunflower seeds become disrupted by bickering, as jostling for dominance " and the right to the best territories for nesting, become important. There are many skirmishes to be observed as the red, grey and fox squirrels sort out similar issues. They chase each other incessantly in plain view of the dogs who sense the squirrel's preoccupation and plead with me to let them out for an ambush on their distracted obsessions.

Hank Lake is still covered in ice but pairs of Canadian geese are scoping out the real estate, leading to lengthy waddling chases, comical to watch and accompanied by a din of honking. Even bystander geese feel the need to join in, lifting their wings and commenting, and the resulting ruckus is clearly audible in the house. The dogs offer to put a quick end to the goose house hunting, too.

The woods still have snow cover but around every tree trunk is a small oasis of bare ground. Voles run frenetically between these patches of brown, on some sort of urgent mission of their own. And the woods are alive with birdcalls, absent since last fall, as migrants return. The Goldfinches are rapidly turning from dull olive to their trademark bright yellow as we watch.

At least one of our resident Ruffled Grouse has survived and is frequenting the area of the drumming log, although I haven't heard drumming yet. And the deer are moving, with the weather break just in time for some of them heavily stressed by winter. I see their tracks, while marveling at their amazing ability to remain unseen.

Popple trees have tiny buds and there are pussy willows in the ditches full of snowmelt. Food is more easily accessible, and the business of reproduction can begin for all our local plants and animals.

I have already made note of dirty windows and dust, so a full-on compulsion of spring cleaning is on my horizon. The horse blankets will be washed and packed away and Oscar the Grouch and Ugly Betty crave the shedding blade to pull out their itchy winter hair. Wolfgang is "blowing" his dense coat. Despite my daily efforts with the "Furminator" brush there are clumps of dog hair everywhere.

Our little country church observes another rite that is a sure sign of spring " the church basement Lenten Friday fish fry. Everyone gets involved " the youngsters as enthused if unpolished servers; the adults as cooks and dishwashers; and everybody as dessert bakers. Instead of brief greetings as we rush to our frigid cars after Mass, we chat over plates of great food and reconnect after the long winter. It is a wildly popular fund-raiser, but it is also a community builder. I am astonished to see between 770 and 1,000 dinners flow out of that little basement kitchen on a single Friday night.

We will have a few setbacks I know " another cold snap and snowfall or two, but the momentum is now unstoppable. Spring is here, and all God's creatures are more than ready for it.

You can reach me for commentary, alternative viewpoints or ideas at this e-mail address: JanieTMartin@gmail.com.


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