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By River Stillwood
Spring is gradually making its way into the Ozarks. Tendrils of warmth are weaving their way through the late-winter cold. The sound of joyful honking filters down as geese fly to their northern homes. Bald eagles are leaving. Turkey buzzards are returning. Young grasses stretching toward the sky are turning the hillsides a vulnerable, innocent green. The air is filled with the whoosh of wings and the smell of earth and rain and new life.
While we have only two weeks to wait before it is officially spring, I am impatient. The cold has stayed too long this year. The bitter wind has blown too hard. Too much snow and sleet and ice have blanketed our ground. The woods laid bare by winter’s hand are ready to be adorned, festooned with millions of delicate blossoms and unfurling leaves. Bring on the serviceberry! Bring on the dogwood and sassafras, the forsythia, the tulips and the lilies! Our flocks of birds are disbanding, individuals now searching for mates. Already the robins and jays are building nests. Surely Nature in all her glory would not bring forth the birds yet withhold the trees and bushes? Surely the time has come for the sun to shine sweetly, the days to turn mild, and the swelling buds to break?
I am not alone in asking for spring to hurry. Along creeks, peepers are climbing from their dens, loudly proclaiming their survival, their resilience, their potency, before returning again to await another warm spell. The delight in their songs belies their weariness of frozen darkness. They must think it a nasty trick, to beat back clement weather with stinging cold.
If only it would turn beautiful and stay that way for awhile. I am ready to dig in the earth, turn the soil, make meandering rows of planted seeds that need to be watered and tended and nurtured along. I’m ready to feast on the first fresh vegetables of the year, lettuces and spinach and sweet, sweet peas. I’m ready for birdsongs and radios and friendly voices and the distant bark of dogs to seep through open windows, to venture out without a coat or sweater and once again feel a late afternoon breeze caress my bare arms. I’m ready to spend evenings with friends on the back porch, watching as the sky turns from blue to peach to gray and then to a gentle darkness speckled with stars and splashed with the milky way.
By the time spring turns into summer and summer turns on the heat, I’ll be eager again for frosty air, for the bite of snow, for nights that start in the afternoon and stretch well into morning. But for now, for this gray moment tangled in the dregs of winter, I’ve had enough.
Bring on the spring!