Wednesday, 29 April 2009
Spring has Sprung...
There were four sure-fire ways to confirm that spring had arrived when I lived in Waterloo: the gradual disappearance of the giant mountain of snow (also known as Mount Hussey - thanks Muffy!) in the SunLife Financial parking lot; discovering the many “treasures” my dog deposited on my lawn throughout the winter; the reopening of the local Dairy Queen; and the appearance of shorts-clad university students on their front lawns, along with living room couches, boom boxes and coolers.
The harbingers of spring are a bit different, but no less welcome here in the Bruce. Watching saucy robins bob around the lawns and trees is always a happy sign of warmer weather in both the city and the country, but up here you get the added bonus of sighting vultures, kingbirds, herons, kingfishers and goldfinches. It's a birdy-nerdy's paradise.
Nature walks are also more of a treat in the country at this time of year. I’m fascinated by the carpet of bluebells that has appeared in my in-laws’ south pasture - the only other place I've seen that is in Ireland. Down in the private lanes of Tout’s grove (D says the snootier cottagers live there), shy periwinkle flowers and their waxy green leaves peep out at me from under piles of leaves. My brother-in-law’s backyard in Blair’s Grove is a serene ocean of white, blanketed with thousands of trilliums.
I'm a girl who likes to follow her nose. In another life, I think I could have been a perfume maker or tester; I absolutely love smelling nice things. Down by the lake right now, there's a gorgeous aroma of poplar in the air that could be bottled and sold as an anti-depressant. I love walking under those sinewy old trees as their fuzzy catkins drop down on my head like scented confetti.
Back at Someday, the Pine river has woken up; we can hear it rushing over the rocks on these still, spring nights. D and I have had several shore-side discussions about whether the groups of fish that wriggle languidly around in the shallows are edible, but we haven’t tried to find out yet. For now, we’re content to hike through the woods to the edges of the riverbank and spy on their afternoon spawning parties. They swim together near the shore, so thick you could practically walk on them. I think they're trout but D is convinced they're "suckers," whatever that is.
I used to enjoy springtime walks around my established gardens in Waterloo to note the earliest flowers: violets, sweet woodruff, crocuses. I’m still somewhat wistful for my old garden stomping grounds, but there's a certain charm to exploring Someday to see what’s coming up in all the unfamiliar soil. Did any of the bulbs I planted last fall escape the squirrel feasts? And what the heck are those droopy, freckled flowers that appeared seemingly overnight in the kitchen garden?
A blanket of snowdrops surprised me around the southwest corner of the house in April, rosy pink nubs of rhubarb have poked their heads out (I still can’t believe I’m the proud owner of four patches), and some kind soul planted lots of sweet woodruff and dozens of columbines everywhere, which makes me feel more at home. Last week I was delighted to discover wild violets springing up all over the lawn. When the sun warms them and they release their delicate fragrance, it’s like breathing in a benediction. They are my favourite flowers next to freesia.
Of course, to offset the delicious scents, there’s also the occasional whiff of manure that wafts over to Someday on the spring breezes. It took me several days before I realized I didn’t need to keep checking the bottoms of my shoes; “fresh air” is the norm up here now that the farmers are "back on the land," as they say. The unmistakable tang of run-over skunk is back, too, and if that isn’t a sure sign of spring, I don’t know what is.
But the funny thing is that where I used to wrinkle my nose at the smell of diesel fumes from the buses that roared up and down Moore Ave in Waterloo, or the sporadic smell of the dump that drifted down when the wind was west, the springtime country aromas don’t bother me. They are all a part of living in the Bruce, and are quickly becoming as homey and familiar as all the other harbingers of spring at Someday.
Man, oh man...I love spring.