Monday, April 6, 2015

SPRINGTIME IN PENNSYLVANIA

There is something magical about springtime in Pennsylvania. Like a curious intruder, the season tiptoes into the chilly state, taking time to look around and become familiar with its surroundings. As the axis of the Earth increases its tilt relative to the sun, the days get longer and the nights get shorter.
The gentle, warm sunshine starts the musical, but familiar melody of drip, drip, plop from the gutters and roofs as ice and snow melt. Water races down driveways, streets, and hills and vales, swelling streams and rivers which have a merry song of their own. 

Along those frozen riverbanks, the skunk cabbage is one of the first plants to thrive along with the red buds which take on a flaming glow against the drab gray arms of leafless deciduous scrubs and trees. In yards and flowerbeds, crocus peeps through a blanket of white, and on the south side of buildings, daffodils and grape hyacinths poke through icy flowerbeds and unfurl their yellow and purple blossom. And everywhere the air is clean and crisp, smelling of new growth and rich loamy earth.


Spring is the time when some mammals are starting to mate. If you listen carefully at night, you might hear a fox barking from the woods, coyotes calling to each other, rabbits squealing in the bushes, or the haunting hoots of the barn and horned owls. And every Pennsylvanian recognizes the familiar and welcome sounds of the peepers in the wetlands just before nightfall.

The actual migrating “snow birds” are back in the state along with the locals. The chatter of the resident black-capped chickadees, winter sparrows, and cardinals in the bushes becomes more insistent as they call to their mates and hunt for the perfect place to build a nest while warning others to stay out of their territories. Canada geese wing northward, and soon the wrens and goldfinch will follow. Somewhere up in the pines the first lean robins arrive to shiver and force out a tune while they search the thawing yards for bare spots to find nourishment.

Spring is a kaleidoscope of vibrant colors. Winter brown lawns fade into hypnotic greens and maples sprout lime-colored new leaves. Forsythia bushes spill out showers of sunny-colored flowers along the roadways. High above, bright blue skies tower over everything—except for the few minutes when glorious sunrises and even more spectacular sunsets paint the sky in ruby reds, golds and plum colors. 

Spring is noisy, colorful, and magical in Pennsylvania. It’s a long-awaited season which lifts and warms the heart and soul upon its arrival—especially after a long, cold, and dreary winter. 

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