Just as I was steeling myself for the New Ice Age and the permanent descent of winter upon us (and never Christmas), I have started to see some early signs of impending spring. We’re not talking anything as out there as crocuses or anything, but the house has sprouted some very impressive icicles, some of which are almost as long as me (not a big wow by human standards, but pretty big for an icicle), and although just a few days ago I poo-pooed my husband’s tentative plan to tap the sugar maples this weekend, now I can practically feel the sap starting to rise in the trees around me. That’s what 2 degrees Fahrenheit can do for you.
Furthermore, the big male skunks are out getting hit on the road at night (not something that would normally gladden anybody’s heart, but an indisputable sign of spring, because they’re out looking for mates after hibernating since Thanksgiving); my family in southern Pennsylvania and my friend in southeastern Vermont have both seen large traveling flocks of robins (my uncle says they left D.C. early this year to avoid the blizzard); I saw what appeared to be 2 hawks riding a thermal today (a thermal!); and I also saw three wayward Canada geese noodling around near some open water a couple dozen miles south of here, where it is a good deal warmer.
Obviously none of these things is going to cause a stampede of Easter rabbits and daffodils. But the evidence is accumulating, and apparently the sap is also rising in me, because I feel a sudden urgency to order seeds and march up to the sugarhouse to make sure they are no bears under it in advance of next weekend’s tapping session. I am taking charge of sugaring this year, because John is too busy, so you can expect to hear more of that shortly.