Birds, Bees and Spring

Posted April 18, 2010, at 6:46 p.m.

It was a long winter — although New York City and even Washington D.C., got worse snowstorms than we did and Florida was mostly a downer, enduring record cold. But spring is actually coming to our part of Maine.

We already had have a few shorts-and-shirt-sleeves days. Crocuses and daffodils and forsythia are in full bloom. The lilacs will be coming right along, and some are actually in bloom. Lawns are turning green again, and the pines and spruces seem to have caught spring fever and brightened up. Supermarkets are ready for the short growing season with shelves of vegetable, herb and flower seedlings. New research has found that British plants are flowering earlier now than at any time in the last 250 years, but the timing in Maine seems normal.

So much for the flora. The fauna are at it, too. Outside, the wild turkeys are spreading their fanned tails in their ridiculous mating preliminary. And horses are shedding their heavy winter coats, getting ready for warm weather activities. If you see a deer crossing the highway, look carefully for the likely second one. Watch out for a moose, too. It is heavier than a deer, and a crash could be more serious. The finches are switching from winter gray and brown into summer yellow. Those ugly cluster flies are coming to life and crowding the windows. The bees are beginning to buzz.

The mating season for woodcocks is on, and the males are at it with their characteristic peenting and twittering. And the hummingbirds soon will be coming back from Mexico and Central America, flying those hundreds of miles in semisleep to conserve fuel.

Going on about all those doings can put a person in mind of the old Cole Porter song, “Let’s Do It, Let’s Fall In Love.” It starts: “Birds do it, bees do it, even educated fleas do it.”

For some folks, spring is March, April and May. More precisely, for people in England and America at least, it starts on March 20 or 21, the vernal equinox, when day and night have equal length, and goes on until the summer solstice, the longest day in the year, usually on June 21. Theoretically the vernal equinox ought to come in the middle of spring, but daytime temperatures lag for several weeks because the earth and the sea take awhile to warm up.

One more contingency: Our regional National Weather Service station in Caribou says that in Bangor it snowed 10 inches on April 13, 1962, and 3.8 inches on May 11, 1963, and in Caribou 21 inches on April 7, 1982, and 5.8 inches on May 8, 1967.

In Aroostook County, records show it has snowed in every month of the year except July and August. So maybe it’s still a little too early to take the plow blade off the pickup.

That aside, it looks as if spring really is here, and it’s time to get out and enjoy it.

http://bangordailynews.com/2010/04/18/opinion/birds-bees-and-spring/ printed on August 23, 2014