“It is spring in the mountains.
I come alone seeking you.
The sound of chopping wood echoes
Between the silent peaks.
The streams are still icy.
There is snow on the trail.
At sunset I reach your grove
In the stony mountain pass.
You want nothing, although at night
You can see the aura of gold
And silver ore all around you.
You have learned to be gentle
As the mountain deer you have tamed.
The way back forgotten, hidden
Away, I become like you,
An empty boat, floating adrift.”
-- Tu Fu (eighth century Chinese poet)
* * * * *
Spring will soon start announcing itself in a number of ways that may accelerate each week, assuming daytime temperatures continue to well above freezing.
Last month we heard birdsong on some hikes – much earlier than usual, and surely because of warm weather. At home I saw lots of early robins outside my window.
Most years March is the month when we first hear frogs on a hike, typically late in the month. Last year it didn’t happen till April. This year it could be any day now.
Some plants like skunk cabbage have already starting sprouting in wetter areas -- as we saw for the first time on last Sunday's hike -- suggesting that this spring's timetable for vegetation could be the earliest ever. Soon we should be seeing many wildflowers as well.
Also, two seasonal markers are coming up on our calendars. First, we return to Daylight Savings Time on 3/13, meaning the sun will be setting an hour later.
Second, spring officially arrives on 3/19. That doesn’t guarantee spring-like weather, but average temperatures can be expected to rise somewhat each week.
On warm, sunny days, when we take rest or lunch breaks on hikes, more of you are likely to be seen stretching out on the ground (or on flat rocks) to sun yourself.
Sound appealing? If you haven’t done so already, make plans and reserve now to hike with us in the ever-milder-and-lovelier weeks and months that lie ahead.
-- Charlie Cook