Mud season brings joy, signs of spring

Posted March 25, 2009, at 5:37 p.m.
Last modified Feb. 13, 2011, at 11 a.m.

So many people say, “We don’t have a spring in Maine. We jump from winter to summer in June — we only have mud season in the middle.”

I love spring. My spring comes early — when the first chickadee sings its spring song, its fee-bee song. It happens in February. Then, I jump with joy.

Cardinals and tufted titmice are joining in a chorus of spring songs. Pussy willows are out, and several red-wing blackbirds are already here. Spring is here.

Don’t let snow get you down. Snow is bound to happen. Still, days are long and the sun is strong. Spring is really here.

Here are a few more signs of spring: Springtails are out, on top of the snow. They are tiny insects that live on the ground in the forest. When the snow retracts from the trunks of trees, making a “bowl” around the tree’s base, springtails come out. They look like pepper on top of the snow.

Crouch down to see them; they are so tiny and interesting. They have little “springs” on their abdomen that enable them to spring — that is, to jump. Think of them as a sign of spring. They spring into spring!

The ravens are courting in beautiful parallel flights over Copeland Hill, behind the Fields Pond Audubon Center. Foxes are traveling in pairs and mating; their secrets can be discerned in their tracks. A chipmunk has come out from hibernation.

I recently saw yet another sign of spring — the spring dispersal of muskrats. Their large winter home is typically a dome of cattails in a marsh. This dome can contain up to a dozen muskrats. Now it’s time for them to find a new home.

Several times recently when I was cross-country skiing, or snowshoeing, I’ve seen muskrats far from the water, eating new greens and roots and traveling overland to a new home.

They are a dark brown animal, with a body about a foot long, and a tail almost as long. I can’t wait for the canoeing season so I can watch a muskrat propel its body in the water, moving along by its tail as well as by its feet.

Good luck, little waddling, dispersing muskrat — watch out for cars. Have a good spring.

For information on Fields Pond Audubon Center, call 989-2591.

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