Always Amazed

            How do they know? The thermometer reads fifteen below and yet our little harbinger of spring is belting out his song. Have you ever watched the Song Sparrow sing? They tip their heads back and sing with all their might..."Madge, Madge, Madge...put on the tea kettle, ettle, ettle." They don't mind fifteen below. They know that spring is coming. I suppose it has to do with the lengthening of the days because it sure isn't the temperature that sets these little guys to singing. They are the first sign of spring in our deep hollow of these West Virginia hills. Once you hear the the Song Sparrow, then you know it's time to start checking the buds on the pussy willows. They will be starting to swell. When this snow melts, there will be little purple and yellow crocus peeping their heads up out of their brown quilt of leaves and then before you know it, a whole bank of snowdrops will pop out one morning.
            There are lots of signs that winter is loosening its icy grip. The barn is full of baby goats hopping and playing tag. Their favorite game is playing king of the mountain on the manure pile out in the snowy barn lot. There are also baby bunnies all snuggled down in their mama's soft fur that she has pulled to make them a nice, warm nest. There are little peeps peeking their heads out from underneath Mama Silkie's wing. Another sign is watching the hair just fly in a cloud around our pony, Luke, when he shakes. You can also see the ewes' bellies starting to swell with baby lambs that are anxious to get out and play. Up in the woods, you can hear hen turkeys clucking and on the next ridge, a gobbler answers in return.
         The thermometer might say it's winter but if you look closely, the signs are all there. Warmer days are ahead. Soon we will be hearing the wood frogs quacking and the spring peepers will be singing. The coltsfoot will be blooming on the banks of the road and the daffodils will be nodding their yellow heads to us. And it all starts with a little, brown bird telling us so.


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