Monday, 16 April 2012

The Signs of Spring

Listen for the chirping of little birds and the sniffling, runny noses of little children. Keep your eyes peeled for the first little shoots of skunk cabbage and the first red blisters of sunburn on the shoulders of teenagers. Watch as they pick at the peeling skin and flick it upon the floor during dinner. Inhale the sweet scents of budding flowers and the ubiquitous inhalations of caca de perros, which float everywhere as the snows melt and the excreta emerges. Some might think of it as nature's fertilizer. Conrad poo-poohs that concept.

springAll over the land the ice is melting in the hot sun. It floats slowly down the streams and rivers, sometimes lodging behind a log or beaver dam. Great northern owls are returning to their nests in the high pines that flank the stream banks. Red and grey foxes emerge from their winter dens and prance among each other gleefully in the willows and scamper like mice up and down the hillsides; most likely looking for a morsel of mouse to lunch upon. Coyotes sing of spring in joyful, high-pitched tones. Those mountain-dwelling sandpiper look-alikes, the Kildeer, skitter across the ground, their spindly legs moving like little stilts beneath their long ringed necks. As they run back and forth in a frenzy they yell out, "scree, ker-ee, scree, ker-ee!" In Kildeer talk it means, " Hey there, it's spring, bring on the worms of summer!" Or something like that. The definitive Kildeer dictionary is due out sometime this summer. In the meantime, just trust your ear and instincts. Think like a bird and you'll grok the word.

Short, Shorts are another sure sign of spring. People get up in the morning and pull on a pair of shorts, even though here in the high country it may still be 10 degrees outside. No matter, we die-hard spring-lovers make believe. We make believe that it's in the 70's outside. Ya gotta believe, or else you freeze from your ankles to your knees. The younger the person the shorter the shorts. And vice versa. Elderly people just roll up their long pants and call them shorts. Denim shorts with ragged, shaggy, shredded cuffs are the preferred style worn in the Butte. What else is there to do with numerous pairs of worn out knees in old Levi's than cut them off and call them shorts?

One definite sign of spring is the emergence of leaf rakes. Right now a friend is out raking the snow off the lawn. It's much like combing the hair of the earth. But what is caught in the earth hair is always filled with surprises. Bottle caps, old gum, candy wrappers, dead grass and the ever-present doggy dew come to the surface and are raked up and deposited in their proper receptacles - garbage cans.

Finally spring is a time to flee the scene and escape to the desert where spring really does its thing. You don't really know what spring is till you sit down on a budding cactus.