Spring Season in Fast Forward

March 12, 2012 by  

By Nick Simonson

Even in “The Winter that Wasn’t” signs of spring are welcome, and with the surge of May-like weather on the southern breezes of early March they’ve been popping up everywhere, getting me excited for the season to come.
Last November, I procrastinated my purchase of a new snowblower right up to Veteran’s Day.  We were fortunate to not have any significant snow at that time, and I picked up a ten percent holiday discount at the local Sears store as a result of holding out.  But for two months, the machine sat idle in my garage, and despite my wife’s urgings, I didn’t even bother to fire it up to see if it worked in the 30-day return window.  Since then, I’ve only used it three times, and once was because I was too lazy to shovel the inch of snow that fell in early February.
Spring SeasonThis morning, after I set my clocks an hour forward and went out and drained the good-as-new-oil from the tank, I smiled as I heard the chorus of honks overhead, and I got up from the garage floor and went outside.  Flock after flock of geese streamed northward on the stiff southern wind, heralding their return to the northlands.  There’s something reassuring to the soul in those joyful honks, even when winter wasn’t so bad, that spring is on its way.
Another unexpected sign of the change from this past season of half-spring to full spring was encountered on a mid-week walk with my lab, Gunnar.  As we turned the corner by a house with three bird feeders (which kept the squirrels fat all winter), two flapping gray forms bobbled their way up into the first rays of sunlight.  They were mourning doves, the first pair landing in the neighborhood.  From the large elm tree across the street, they cooed their displeasure at the interruption of their post-migratory breakfast. I pulled my phone out and checked the date – March 7 – the earliest I had ever seen them.
The branches of the old willow in the front yard are bright yellow.  The dogwoods in the nearby state park are beaming red.  And the big auburn buds on the maple trees down the street seem to double in size and number with each passing day.  These colorful signs mean the world of brown around us (with just a hint of white left) is about to change – weeks ahead of schedule.  My timetable is shifting too.
It won’t be long until I’m back home setting the hook on the first smallmouth of the year.  There’s a good chance I’ll find myself on the north shore of Lake Superior chasing chrome running up the Baptism River.  And maybe, just maybe, this warm and docile start to spring will spur on a healthy hatch for birds across the pheasant belt, and we can look forward to improved hunting next fall.
In the meantime, I’ll need to turn out a few more jigs to be ready for early bass in North Dakota.  The egg flies will have to get hatching in my vise for spring Steelhead.  And some early time at the trap range will give me an extra advantage next fall.  As the signs of spring keep rolling in (I expect my first robin next week sometime) and anticipation builds, I know I’ve got to get ready for the coming changes brought on by this early end to the winter that never was, and a long, warm introduction to the next set of seasons including this early spring season…in our outdoors.


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