I don’t care what the calendar says, spring hasn’t officially arrived for me, yet. When I was young, I had milestones that I teased myself with to give myself hope that spring was coming. March 1st gave me the promise of spring, even though the snow would still be thick on the ground. By March 15th, there was a good chance that the snow would be gone, but I was under strict orders from my friend Jumper that I was not to put away my shovel until that date. For him, putting the shovel away was an invitation for the snow to return in force. If it snowed after that date he would seek me out and bark, “When’d you put away your shovel?” I was always the first of his usual suspects to be rounded up for questioning. Easter was also a good marker, but as an adult, I have come to look to the experts for the announcement of spring. No, not Environment Canada, and it has nothing to do with the calendar; it’s the peepers.
We live backing onto a green space. Well, we call it a green space even though it is white and barren in the winter, and the pond is frozen over. But in the end of March and the beginning of April, green shoots start to pop out of the ground and for a while the fields are covered in a short green fuzz as the wild grasses start to emerge. That is all very pretty, of course, and the air gets warmer too, but the spring hasn’t fully arrived for me until I can hear it. Sometime soon, I should be able to hear the first of the spring peepers. These tiny frogs wake from their winter sleep, poke their heads out of the pond water, and begin to call out to their prospective mates. Only the males peep. At first there will be only a few, and the sound will be easily mistaken for bird calls, but as the spring wears on their numbers will increase. At its peak, their performance can sound like sleigh bells. Then sometime in early July, the sound will change. The peepers will give way to the bullfrogs, with deep voices that sound like the throaty murmur of hushed voices of conspirators. (What can they be planning?)
The snow is now gone, the air is warmer and my shovel has been put away for some time. It should be any day now — and I can’t wait.