It’s not spring here on Roundtop, and if I had any doubt of that I did have snow and sleet yesterday. Barely-late- or late-mid-February is never spring, though I am already starting to see inklings of of the season's change around me in the forest.
Scent: Even with yesterday’s little snow, the forest air no longer has that crisp, cold scent to it that associate with winter. The scent also certainly isn’t the scent of warming ground. It’s something in between.
Sound: Birds are singing in the morning again, and it’s more than just the cardinals who will sing at the drop of a hat, even in mid-winter. Now, it’s also the Carolina wren and the titmice and the twittering of the juncos.
Sight: Birds and animals. Northern flickers don’t actually migrate but they often travel down off the mountain and into sheltered valleys to spend the winter. They are back up on the mountain again. Turkey vultures and even a black vulture or two ply the skies on warmer days. Rabbits are out all the time. Last night I had a raccoon on the back deck again. It was raiding the bird feeder.
These aren’t signs of spring. They are simply signs that winter is easing and that the depths of the season are past. Another cold spell, another storm will send birds and animals scurrying back into roosts and dens to wait it out all over again. But when that happens the retreat won’t be for as long nor the storm’s aftermath as severe. The days are lengthening and the sun sets ever further in the north each day.