In the depths of winter I finally learned there was in me an invincible summer.
A snowy covering blankets everything, from the feedertops to the treetops. Deep furrows reveal our well-traveled paths to the birdfeeders, and bird tracks decorate the light dusting of snow that covers the deck. Mounds of snow 4 feet high rim the deck, making each subsequent snowfall harder and harder to remove.
It's only mid February, and I know there's more snow yet to come. Like in 2001, when we had 30" delivered to our doorsteps over two days in early March. Even April is not safe from winter's gifts. Back in April 2000, 18" of snow fell just days after we were basking in 70° temperatures. Within days, the warmed earth had taken back all the snow.
Yet today I hear the promise of spring. From across the snow-covered yard, a Tufted Titmouse sings a variety of songs, quivering his wings, and looking to see if he's being noticed. Our Northern Cardinal pair is starting to feed together. They keep in touch by singing to each other from the trees. The Black-capped Chickadees are chiming in too with their sweet "fee-bee" calls. Blue Jays touch beaks and the earliest signs of the coming molt show on the forehead of a male American Goldfinch.
By the end of the month, Red-winged Blackbirds will have returned to the area. And thousands of miles to our south, our beloved Ruby-throated Hummingbirds will start arriving by the millions along the Gulf Coast. It will take another two months of travel before they arrive in our yards in early May.
The wheels of the seasons are always turning. Even from deep within winter's grip, spring is beginning to awaken. The snow muffles its sound, numbs us, causes us to be unaware of its approach. But watch and listen closely, and you will see and hear signs of spring's progression towards its inevitable and welcomed arrival.