The Return of the Flicker

Yesterday morning I heard, clear in the crisp April morning, my old friend from last spring the Yellow-shafted Northern Flicker. I’m not sure yet whether they are back in the old snag behind the neighbor’s house, on the edge of the marsh, and there hasn’t been the same incessant pecking as there was last spring (at least not yet; let’s let them get up full speed), so I haven’t been able to locate them just yet. But at least one of them is back.

One or two mornings ago, we (Amy & I) also had another encounter with Mr. Cardinal, who must live in these parts year round, since I see him throughout both the winter and summer. He is easy enough to spot before the trees leaf out, in his jaunty red coat, but once the leaves come out he’s a bit tougher to spot but still easy to hear. Pew-pew-pew-pew! Swee! Swee!

The winter is hanging on hard, this year. After the April Fool’s Day snowstorm, which was much tougher on our neighbor states to the north and west than it was on us, we are still struggling to break free of chilly nights, a wan spring sun, and wicked, stiff gusts from the Canadian North. We are just barely breaking in to the 40s, although in the coming weekend the forecasters say we could get through the 50s and 60s and up to 70 on Monday — although always cooler here on the coast. At this time last year, we were taking measurements for an ark….now we are wondering why we can’t put our winter gear away for good!

Although there is a glimmer of hope, in the two magnolia trees at either end of our street. Just around the corner, out my office window, I can see one magnolia half-covered with (what looks like) kernels of fluffy popcorn, round fluffy balls waiting to pop. Down the street at the house called Ocean’s Dream, one side of the magnolia catches the earliest morning sun, and those branches are slowly emerging in to bloom, whereas the rest of the tree, which gets full daily sun, are still curled up tight in their fuzzy little beds.

I’ve been watching *those* magnoliae for signs of the coming spring, and now that they are starting to blossom I feel we can take it on faith now that spring is just around the corner in truth. Or maybe just around the next corner after that. The crocuses that began to pop from the soil a couple of weeks ago were just teases, letting on nothing of the snow we’d still get. The jonquils are finally in bloom, the lilies are poking their heads from the ground, my hosta (the ravenous, visitor-eating one by the front door) would be getting along much better if Amy would just stop nibbling at it, and the front hedges are starting to show signs of budding out, but I didn’t think I could really believe spring was coming until the two magnolia trees were on the road to Bloomsville.

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