Did you know that hummingbirds use the softness of pussy willows to line their nests in the spring? Isn’t that cool? Or rather warm and fuzzy? I just learned that fun fact of nature this spring after a lifelong fondness for pussy willows and hummingbirds. I never connected the two before, but I can imagine that soft, gray fuzz makes the perfect fleece blanket on which to hatch those tiny, little eggs. I always try to coax those tiny birds to my windowbox with flowers they can’t resist. I‘m usually successful.
What’s your favorite part of spring? Little leaves or fern fronds that unfurl a bit each day? The first blossoms to burst open? The sound of raindrops or thunder? Where I live there’s always a new litter of kittens and wobbly calves getting used to their spindly legs. Weed or not, the first dandelions to appear make me smile.
Although published almost 30 years ago, I just reread “Life is a Learnin’,” a book of prose and poetry written by the late Bob Heffner. He was a newsman by vocation but a poet at heart. His poem, “Concert in the Glen” that follows is a great description of the songbirds of spring. “I strolled along a country lane, the day was filled with sound; I thought I heard a choir sing, and slowly turned around. It came from nearby woodlot, that grew along the lane; I moved a little closer, just to hear the glorious strain. The concert hall contained no doors, no ushers there to guide; I walked into the forest, where a grassy glen I spied. I took my place beneath the oak, upon a mossy knoll; to listen to the music that touched my very soul. The dome above this concert hall, was painted azure blue; and from it shown a brilliant sun to light this glorious view. No stage held these performers, they sang from where they stood; in stereo their joyful sound was heard throughout the wood. A robin redbreast took the lead, and chirped with lilting glee; a bluejay broke in from above, its screech a bit off key. A cardinal whistled its refrain, a grosbeak followed suit; the owl sat mute as if to say, he didn’t give a hoot. Woodpeckers clung to nearby trees and drummed at rapid pace; a blackbird warbled harmony, a bullfrog took the bass. At last the grand finale came, the creatures all took part; and then as twilight dimmed the stage, a stillness filled the park. I found there in the forest, such diversity of sound; each one sings a different tune, yet harmony abounds. Of all the music man may write, or all the concerts play; none will match the one I heard beneath the oak that day.”
From birds to trees, the late, great American author James Michener, in his autobiography, wrote about a farmer in his neighborhood who early one spring day hammered eight long and rusty nails around the circumference of his aging apple tree that had lost its energy to bear fruit. That fall the aging tree produced a bumper crop of juicy, red apples. When asked about the turn around, the farmer said the tree simply needed a jolt to be reminded of its job. The injections of rust — a mineral burst — were just the spring tonic the tree needed.
Whatever the tonic that spurs you into action, here’s hoping for good results whether casting a pole, plowing a field or sprinkling a row of seeds in the garden. Happy spring!