Monthly Archives: March 2015

A Moment

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Helleborus spp. (Winter or Lenten rose)

Here in the northern hemisphere, it is the official first day of spring.

It is the day of the vernal equinox, that moment when the sun shines directly on the equator, when one season ends and a new one begins. That moment occurs today at 6:45 pm EDT.

For me, it is still winter. The thermometer agrees; it is exactly 32°F at this moment while I enjoy my hot morning tea and cozy warm sweater on this last winter morning.

It has been a good winter. I have had plenty of snow and cold and good birds and completed projects. And there might even be some more snow today. I love winter.

Like most people, I also love spring. I appreciate and need the revitalization of colors and plant growth, the arrival of summer birds, the warm sunny breezes on my face, and the energy that comes with the season. But I also feel a sense of apprehension. Winter is sometimes called fierce, and summer described as unrelenting. I find that spring has a force of urgency and determination that can be intimidating. It will push its way in without hesitation.

So I will savor every last moment of winter today. Then, this evening, and not a moment before, I will welcome spring with open arms.

Happy Spring!

~Elizabeth

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Red Red Robin…

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American robin, Leesburg, NJ. 2015 by E. Thompson.

When I was a child in Philly, watching birds in the teeny back yard with my mom, seeing a robin meant that spring was upon us. We would sing that old ditty about the red, red robin that comes bob, bob, bobbin along…

We did not see robins in winter.

The American robin (Turdus migratorius), is migratory, hence its name. Migratorius means “to go”. The robins of our backyards in summer are not the same robins we see in winter- if you see any in winter.

Robins form large flocks in winter, and they may or may not be in your area. I happen to live in an area of southern NJ where huge flocks of robins spend their winter. But I only see them pass over in great numbers in the morning and again at dusk; they don’t visit my garden. In spring they will move north for their summer nesting areas, and my summer robins will return from the south.

We just had another snow storm and it was a big one- about 7 inches of snow. If you’ve read my previous posts, you know that I love snow. And while I know that many of you are, no, I’m not tired of it yet. Seriously, I wouldn’t mind if winter stayed for another three months. I am however getting a bit tired of the laces on my boots.

Anyway, this snowstorm, and the ice storm and the snow of last week, provided endless opportunities for photographs. I am sure you all have awesome pics of this winter wonderland. So, I will not bore you with yet more wintry, snowy pictures…except for this wintry, snowy photo of a robin.

I have had huge unexpected flocks of robins hanging all about my house and yard during and after this storm. They have been lined up along the roof edge, with synchronized bobbing, drinking from dripping icicles. And they have been covering the Juniper shrubs like Christmas tree ornaments, devouring the berries and flinging the snow with their busy wings.

Robins prefer to eat worms and other things in the soil, but when they find themselves in an area of deep snow, they will resort to berries.

I don’t know if these are the wintering robins that usually remain aloof and overhead, or early migrants that signal the arrival of spring. Either way, despite anyone’s wishes, or the behavior of the robins, spring will not arrive until March 21st.

Are you seeing robins in your yard?

~Elizabeth