Jefferson Weaver • The soundtrack of spring

In the woods beside our house is a half-forgotten colony box for martins. It was knocked into the trees and vines during one storm or another, and restoring it to service is somewhere down around number 2,000 on my to-do list.

The goats have helped clear some of the vegetation around the base of the martin house, and I was contemplating the effort needed to set the box all the way back up the other day when I caught a hint of blue in one of the holes. Not long afterward, I spotted the first of two bluebirds busily flitting back and forth with hay, straw and other nesting material.

When we moved to our place back in 2017, Miss Rhonda had several bluebirds among our rescued animals. They were some of our first releases. I like to think this pair are at the very least descendants of those original fluffs of down that beat the odds and grew up.

Jefferson Weaver

We usually get the early bluebirds right as February’s last gasps are rattling in the stranglehold of March. The years we have had a long winter and a late spring, the bluebirds took their time returning. For early springs, they turn up well ahead of schedule. This time they seem to be somewhere in between, regardless of what the alleged prognosticating rodent in Pennsylvania says.

There are other signs, too, that March’s promise of spring is coming to fruition.

The fairy bells beside my gate opened the other day.

I can never remember the correct name for the little white flowers, but they inevitably come out after the first cautious forays by the jonquils and daffodils back in late January, followed by their blankets of color in February. Our irises are carefully unfolding, knowing full well that March and even April can have freezing temperatures, but the bulbs get impatient after a year of waiting.

One of “my” does stopped in the middle of the lane the other day; although the deer was still gaunt from the Hunger Moon, her belly was just a bit fat. I strongly suspect she might not make it to summer fawning season before finding a discreet spot between the pines and the blackberry brambles to have her spotted progeny.

I sincerely hope our massive buck is the daddy; he survived the last hunting season, but with antlers like a rocking chair, his years are numbered. Either age or a hunter is statistically likely to get him before many more seasons pass, so I hope he has well and truly improved the gene pool. I’ll try again to find one of his shed antlers this year, dropped in the tiny red buds of the Rose of Sharon that surrounds the blackberries like a picture frame.

I know spring is looming, not just because of the Snow Moon bidding farewell or the flowers blooming or the bluebirds building. The turkeys are “bugging” the fields across from us, haunting the woods along the railbed and driving my dogs crazy.

Spot-Spot (or Dot-Dot, they’re hard to tell apart) has turned into a hissing, snapping monster, although that’s not much of a transformation for the average goose. Any day now, the ivory ovals under her warm belly will crack, there will be a chorus of little peeps, and the rest of the flock will gather and celebrate the birth of a new clutch of little dinosaurs – when they aren’t randomly attacking any other bird or animal that may have entertained the idea of eating a baby gosling.

June Carter, our sole mother hen, hasn’t nested yet, but I’m sure she’ll go broody fairly soon. She and Rooster Cash have a lot of work to do, since they’re our only survivors from last year. I only hope I have the new chicken yard finished in time for the products of their noisy, overly dramatic love.

Spring’s song is everywhere in our woods; it looms just beyond the pines, where the first of the dogwoods have already opened their blooms. The rush of baby possums, squirrels and rabbits hasn’t started, but I’m sure they’ll be along directly, orphaned or displaced by wind, rainstorms and Nature’s little tragedies.  For now, some of our resident tree rats are looking a bit thick around the middle as they dash from the oaks to the chestnuts, and bicker over ownership of last year’s pecans down in the hollow. The robins, blue jays and others are frantically raiding any leftovers overlooked by my livestock.

I’m waiting for the King and Queen jays to settle back into their annual nest in our sad old gum tree, where they shriek and scream and squabble, demanding to be protected from the snakes that inevitably break the rules, forcing me to convert said serpents into possum food. Normally I like to leave the snakes alone, but rules are rules.

Our rabbits haven’t started dancing in the lane yet, but that day (or night, as the case may be) is coming. Soon enough, their rites of springs will be initiated, and those who survive the hungry owls, hawks, foxes, bobcats and coyotes will establish little pockets of grass and fluff that give me an excuse not to mow the fenceline or the ditchbanks.

I smelled and saw and heard spring the other afternoon and evening, as the puppies wrestled the baby goat and I sat in the day’s dying sunshine tending a fire whose purpose was justified, barely, with the need to get rid of some of the winter’s storm debris. The bluebirds were getting a little more work done before sunset, when our resident congress of owls would convene in the gloaming and rule through the night. There was just a hint of an unknown flower on the breeze, and a mama squirrel was giving daddy squirrel a cussin’ over matters far beyond human comprehension.

There will be a few cold nights left; there might even be a flake or two of snow, or some freezing rain. Spring takes its time in southeastern North Carolina.

The day is coming soon, though, when the dogwoods will explode with color, bright shiny eyes will peek out from nests in trees and clumps of grass, and the songs of spring will sweetly sound throughout the swamp and the woods, a soundtrack for the promise of March.

About Jefferson Weaver 1973 Articles
Jefferson Weaver is the Managing Editor of Columbus County News and he can be reached at (910) 914-6056, (910) 632-4965, or by email at [email protected].