Harbingers Ring in Spring

Spring enters. In fits and starts, gentle, warmer winds herald longer days, days of fewer layers and even, for the hardiest Islanders, shorts. Spring begins today (according to the calendar), and Her harbingers are everywhere. The pinkletinks peep, clinging to cold bark; the crocuses peek, straining their purple heads above the still frost-hardened soil. The noble osprey soars into the slowly warming North Atlantic sky for the first time in months, refreshed from his winter retreat in the tropics and ready once again to hunt the herring as the fish return north to their spawning grounds.

The changes in the environment are many but subtle and often overlooked. Other changes, in the people, can be seen everywhere. Checking the temperature in the morning is once again encouraging. There’s a contagious half-smile from a neighbor in line at the post office, or an uncharacteristic chipperness in the dour store clerk.

Some will miss winter, a time when we catch up with friends, stay home to tackle projects, or rest. But most Islanders relish the new smells, new sounds and the new feelings in the air, the beginning of spring, carrying the promise of a summer not far off, and with those promises, the guarantee of life cycling onwards.

Let us not forget the precautions of the Island outdoors-person: tick checks, reflective clothing for joggers and cyclists, and appropriate clothing. Just because the harbingers are out, beckoning forth dreams of milder days, doesn’t mean you won’t need an extra layer once in a while. Yankee prudence is still in order, as winter is a harsh mistress, and here in New England, she could show up on the doorstep, unwelcome and unannounced, at any time.