The date of spring has arrived but the winter weather has not let go of its cold grip on Connecticut just yet. There are subtle changes happening outside that do  let me know the cycle of seasons is still in effects outdoors. One of the very first ‘signs of spring’ I recognize is the first egg laid by my dad’s chicken’s, usually during the last week in February. His phone call with the announcement is a welcome ritual we have shared for more than two decades. Now it is almost April and his flock of 18 hens are  producing 12 to 13 eggs per day. Shortly after the first egg call, the scent of spring is in the evening air as the musky odor of skunks on their nocturnal search of mating. Road killed skunks also begin to appear, sadly, but I still count their presence as a sign of spring.

The next in succession I observe is the bark color of willows begins to show a tinge of yellow on the newer branches. Some maples show a reddish tinge on their bark towards the ends of the branches. Now the buds are swelling in anticipation of bright sunny days and warm air temperatures. Early spring weeds such as chickweed and hairy bittercress are showing fast growth. Can the cheery dandelion be far behind?

Birds are good indicators of spring as we see many more robins. There are a few robins that do spend the winter in Connecticut, but many more migrators join the resident ones during March. Flocks of red-winged black birds and grackles appear in huge numbers, blackening my lawn as they rest en-mass and search for food and drink. Water is readily drunken from the pool cover by the huge flock, refilling them for the rest of their journey, as I note in few days they are all gone. Just passing through is a sign of spring, too.

The flowers popping out of the ground provide needed relief from the snow covered landscape and the browns of winter. The emerging fuzzy buds of pussy-willow plants are grown just for their spring announcements. Snowdrops, scilla and crocus scream to me to not give up hope on New England and move to Florida. Warmer days are just around the



skunk in spring snow,

black bird flock,

-Carol Quish