Spring is Finally Here

Posted May 20, 2009, at 9 p.m.

Never mind that heavy freeze at the start of the week. It must have been the last gasp of a hard winter. Evidence is everywhere that spring is fully upon us. The nights may be chilly, but the days are usually warm and sunny.

The yellow forsythias have mostly gone by, along with many of the daffodils. But the early purple azaleas are at their height.

Most of the trees are sprouting their leaves, if a couple of weeks later than usual. The delicate light greens contrast with an occasional red maple and the dark greens of the pines and spruces. Don’t worry when you see some brown pine needles; they are probably just preparing for some seasonal shedding.

The hackmatacks, which others call larch or tamarack, will be coming along soon. Their branches and twigs have been bare all winter, since they are one of the few deciduous needled trees. Before long they will be covered with fuzzy green needles, which will last into late fall when they will turn golden and finally drop to the ground.

At summer restaurants, hotels and motels, the winter wrappings are off the signs and the vacancy notices have lit up, ready for the influx that makes tourism our leading industry. Bar Harbor gift shops have taken down their shutters to prepare for the succession of cruise ship visits.

Most of the lobster pounds are already open, with smoke pouring from the chimneys and salt water on the boil. The prices are still low — bad for the lobstermen but good for the customers. A special attraction is the observation tower on the new Penobscot Narrows Bridge between Verona and Prospect, which opens again this week.

Along the shore, pier floats are down and some hardy sailors already have their boats in the water. Soon their sails will decorate the nearby ocean, along with lobster boats that will dot the horizon.

A few of the burdens, too, have begun to show up. The worst are the black flies, which eat rather than sting and can cause swelling and even infection. Summer traffic comes with the tourism, and that means occasional bumper-to-bumper driving, though nothing like Boston or New York. Huge RVs, often with cars hitched behind, are beginning once more to lumber along the roads. Convertibles already have their tops down. And watch for an occasional antique Cadillac or Packard, shiny and ready after winter storage.

So, at last, spring has sprung. Make the most of it. After all, summer starts in another month, and another spring will have gone past.

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