Spring has sprung!

Sallie Satterthwaite's picture

Spring has sprung. The grass has riz. I wonder where the birdies is.

Is it just me, or did this spring kinda pounce on us when our backs were turned? From freezing to fabulous in a matter of hours. Honestly, it is no exaggeration to say that some of the trees, the Bradford pears especially, bloomed overnight.

The ones between lanes of south Peachtree Parkway opened, one night two weeks ago. From buds just loosening at twilight, full out by morning, lighting our way from mundane to miraculous as we went about our lives.

Redbud and Japanese magnolia and forsythia, invisible in the off-season, didn’t even know they were there. And when the right combination of daylight, rain, warmth came together – Pow! Color to throw against the white backdrop of pears and cherries. Look quick or you’ll miss them.

But didn’t the daffodils last a long time this year? The right combination again. Mine I dug up 30 years ago, when the county was planning to pave Ebenezer Road; they are the earliest to open. They used to brighten the yard of an old home place, long gone. The woman who planted the bulbs is surely dead by now, but I admired those flowers for several springs, picking hundreds of flowers to give away to friends. Finally, learning the bulldozers were rolling my way, I dug up all the bulbs I could carry and gave most of them away. I planted them behind our house on Pebblestump, along a little stone-lined ditch that carried away water in storms, and every year there were more daffies, and always in late January and early February.

When we moved to our present home behind the “Three Ponds” in Braelinn, I brought as many bulbs as I did the first time, and planted them wherever I could see them from the house, the exact opposite of what real estate agents say to do.

This year, one of those combinations of circumstances again, and we had the earliest ever daffodils blooming – from the first week of January to mid-March.

Birds. They’re so busy, this time of year, vying for mates and nest sites. We hear “chickadee-dee-dee” and note a pair has taken up residence in one of the bluebird boxes Dave built several years ago. I think the Carolina wrens are using the hidey-hole tucked under the eaves above our front door. It’s safe and totally protected, and they usually fledge their first clutch before the end of March.

A pair of cardinals has a precious, neat little nest in a bush near the house. I don’t want to scare them, so I took only that one glance, and notice there is a smooth band of some sort of ribbon wrapped around the nest, a band that adds an elegant architectural detail. (Duck tape? Couldn’t resist.)

We kept one hummingbird feeder up all winter, but it drew no business. Remembering that we usually see the first hummer before leaving March, I bought a couple of more feeders and put them out, ever hopeful. Made a cocktail of one part sugar (not an artificial sweetener) stirred until smooth in three parts of warm water. Skip the coloring.

Dave makes me ant-moats of a pressure can lid with a short dowel pushed through a hole in the lid, and then sealed carefully so as not to leak. Drill a cup hook in the ends of the dowel to hang the feeder, and put it outside a window where you can see it easily. Keep water in the moat to prevent ants from getting to the sweet beverage. You really need to change the sugar water and the feeders at least once a week, although it may not be your favorite thing to do.

Celebrate spring as you celebrate birthdays, anniversaries, the return of a prodigal son. Give gifts to the lovely world around us.

If you simply must fell trees or tear out bushes, couldn’t you wait until September? – to avoid destroying bird nests.

Keep fresh water available year-round, preferably moving water. Most birds love it, and we watched them take full-immersion baths even in icy cold weather.

We had a wood thrush on our back deck recently – very briefly, but seldom do we see the fairest of soloists in our forest. You’ll know the thrush by his clean white breast decorated with black polka dots, his cinnamon brown wings and back, and the white ring around each eye. He is very like his cousin the robin, but his song is much more melodious. He’s the one that sounds like a flutist singing his 4-part song in careful cadence, pausing briefly before starting the phrases over again.

Allergies. Almost everyone has them, and this is the time of year misinformation spreads around the community like the yellow pine pollen drifts across our lawns and just-washed cars. Pine pollen is a nuisance, with its slimy swirls on cars, streets, and broad-leafed ornamentals. But that’s all it is, a nuisance. The rule of thumb is this: If pollen is big enough to be seen, it’s too big to be an allergen.

It’s still early for goldenrod, but that’s another plant that gets a bum rap. Goldenrod and ragweed live and shed pollen in the same environment. The ragweed’s flowers are green and its pollen fine. You don’t see either flower nor pollen. Kerchoo!

Goldenrod, however? Not an allergen, not a pest. Used often in floral arrangements in historic buildings like Monticello and Mt. Vernon.

The mandarin duck was still at “Three Ponds” in Braelinn Village as recently as last weekend. He lives peacefully with the flock of mallards that swim from bank to bank looking for appropriate nesting sites. The mandarin is usually with a mallard drake. Hmmm.

Spring has sprung. The grass has riz. I wonder where his sweetheart is.

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