Looking, waiting for those sure signs of spring

By Rick Houser – 

It is safe to say that before that first day of spring finally arrives most of us have been on the prowl in the hopes that spring might show up early. But alas, spring is not a season to rush its arrival. As a matter of fact, spring is notorious for showing up late. But by the time February is making its exit and March is slowly entering into the scene, any positive detail is a welcome sign of spring’s pending arrival.
The real first sign might be the tapping of Maple trees for their sap then boiling it into maple syrup. When I was in maybe the sixth or seventh grade, I decided that tapping trees and boiling the sap until it became maple syrup wouldn’t be too much trouble. When you are that age and whatever the project is, it’s never that much trouble. That’s until you try doing it. That was one of those times when I learned to appreciate maple syrup and respect those who go out and harvest it.
The thing is the sap in the tree will not flow until the conditions are trending toward a warmer climate, so when the sap rises in the trees, it is the first sign that those happy days of spring are getting close.  Also during this time you probably only have to look at your yard and look for the early flowers to begin pushing their stems above ground. Flowers like the daffodil or crocus or Hyacinthus. Last in this group and most popular is always the tulips. Let me clarify here that these flowers aren’t about to bloom. Actually they are just getting their courage up to pop through the ground’s surface and take a look around.
In the last few days I have noticed as I make my way along the roads to and from work that where the wheat was drilled last fall, those places are becoming a dark green, very much the opposite from the rest of the fields. Take a good look at the herds of cattle. They are actually working their way across the pastures and they are picking at the new grass that has begun to grow. We can’t see it because it is sprouting under the old dead foliage left from the past fall, but the cows do.
Another way of telling that the season is changing is seeing more people outside, sweeping their porch or picking up broken branches that have accumulated over the winter. You will see children running and playing. Of course they are mostly on the pavements as the yard is still too muddy, but the smiles and laughter tell us they feel good being out in the fresh air. If nothing else, people are walking just to be walking. Some of these people are still bundled up much more than they want to be, but as is almost always the case, we take what we can get.
So here we are. We are still in winter and we know spring is just around the corner. Human nature tells us to try speeding it up but that’s to no avail. Spring will arrive when it is good and ready. However, mankind is a species that doesn’t handle patience very well.
The important thing about this time of year is that spring is arriving and we can feel and see tiny changes to our world. This becomes the promise that we will eventually break free from the grip of the dark, cold, and gloomy time of year known as winter. The human mind is built to progress from positive action even if they come a little bit at a time. With no promise for better times delivered to us at the right time, we fail to improve.
In the last few days I have begun to look to the trees, looking closely for the buds to appear. They come with the next step to spring. Although I have yet to see any, I have confidence they will be showing up any day now.
Here is where I feel man is very much the optimist. When winter draws to a close and lingers past its welcome, we become pessimistic. When we are drawn into the mood of pessimism, mankind becomes negative in his approach to how he handles the world around him, but throw some sunshine his way and watch him walk and talk and be “M r. Positive.”
Not until this time of year do you see people looking outside to find things to do.  Even I have begun looking around my garage and barn to see just what I should be doing. (Mind you now I didn’t say I would do anything, but I would at least look.) There is a word that enters into our approach to how we handle all this. That word is “motivated”.. Even with good television shows and good basketball teams to watch and more than a fair share of junk food to eat, we become bored, so when we do receive a day that allows us to think about what we might want to do outdoors, it is a welcome thought.
When I think back to the years I was growing up on the farm, I would watch my Dad and the neighbors as they would experience the arrival of spring and just how accomplishing the smallest chore was a big event. During this time we got to clean stables and load and unload fertilizer and straighten up the hay lofts. Those were jobs that could have waited for sure. Of course the number one must-do chore I recall being assigned was sprouting all of those potatoes. We had a lot of them and by the end of February they were anything but fun to handle. But hey, I got to be outside to do it.
Rick Houser grew up on a farm near Moscow in Clermont County and loves to share stories about his youth and other topics. If you would like to read more of his writing he has just published his second book. “Memories ARE From the Heart” and his first ‘There are Places I Remember” that you can get through here. He may be reached at houser734@yahoo.com.