From the Feb. 27, 1953 edition of the Gazette:

One swallow, as the proverb said, does not make a summer; but red-winged blackbirds are pretty well informed birds, and when they show up in numbers on February 24, something is certainly afoot. From other indications we feel reasonably sure that what is afoot is spring.

The sudden recurrence of the odd sound coming from marshes and hedgerows and from around certain ponds, the sound not heard in just this way for a full year — “K-r-e-e-e-e-e! K-r-e-e-e-e-e!” — follows quickly upon the resurgence of the song sparrows. For some days the song sparrows had been helping to quicken the rather stolid mornings; they were up as soon as the sun, and with fully as much warmth. We had, of course, been seeing them all winter, but suddenly they sang and sang gladly.

Now their singing and that of the red-winged newcomers is consolidated, the one tuneful, sweet, blithe as the morning light, the other impertinent, persistent, and both dedicated to the greatest of all coming events, to our new season.

A great deal may happen between now and May, a great deal is sure to happen, but if the red-winged blackbirds can stand it, so can we. We shall wait upon them in their swampy borders and listen to the sound that forecloses the spirit of winter; and there will be buds and leaves and flowers - as there have already been dandelions in full regalia on the lawn where, a few weeks from now, some perverse toiler will try to dig them out.

“K-r-e-e-e-e-e!” And then a flash of red as the bird flies form one covert to another, or lifts his wings atop a wild cherry tree and makes the announcement that he is here and here to stay.

The first herring marketed this year were purchased by Sam Cahoon yesterday, half a bushel or thereabouts, caught in one of the nearby Cape creeks.

Herring have been reported along the Cape shore two weeks ago and a couple of hundred were taken in an otter-trawl in Menemsha Bight, nearly three weeks ago, but these were the first marketed at Woods Hole.

The patter of feet, not very little ones, preceded the throwing open of a bedroom door in Edgartown on Tuesday morning, Feb. 24, and the enthusiastic announcement: “The redwings are here!” Since these welcome visitors had definitely not been seen or heard the day before, they must have arrived by air express some time during the night. They were jubileeing at a great rate around Sheriff’s Meadow Pond, and a little later in the morning, an advance guard had reached the outskirts of the favorite feeding station of yesteryear.

Like every other living or growing thing, the redwings advanced the date of their arrival, which in Edgartown is never earlier than the first week in March, and up-Island sometimes a day or two earlier. Last year, heralded as an extremely early arrival date, the first were seen on Feb. 29, in West Tisbury.

Perhaps Vineyarders brag too much about the Island climate. Perhaps! Bit there is ample inspiration for this. As witness, on Monday, Feb. 23, the pansy beds of Louis Greene in North Tisbury presented a half-acre of rippling color. Purple, yellow, white and vari-colored pansies, all fully-blown, literally carpeted the area. The plants have been in the ground all winter and from time to time a venturesome flower would appear, but this week it seemed that every one was blooming.

Mrs. Manuel S. Duarte of Vineyard Haven is justified in feeling that spring is near. Much to her surprise, she found in her garden last week some daffodils and jonquil buds peeking through the leaves. Mrs. Duarte has removed a few leaves each day and watered the plants every other day. They are now twelve inches high, with their first petals turning back and showing color. There are also budding hyacinth plants, six inches tall. A ten inch wire fence close to the house has held the leaves over the plants, resulting in the advanced blooms.

Some of the suavest and largest and most beautiful pussywillows ever seen at the Gazette office were sent down yesterday by Mrs. Daniel Manter of West Tisbury where spring is spring and pussywillows are pussywillows. They are perfect in their gray fur, one of the refinements and adornments of the season, caught in the prime condition.

Song sparrows, which have been singing in the mornings for the past few weeks, have settled down to music as an avocation for almost all day. Their tunefulness is evident in many parts of the Island, perhaps in most. And chickadees are singing “Phee-bee” as they do in spring, and a blue jay at the Gazette office was working a real melody in yesterday’s springlike rain.

The wheelhouse Loafer reports a red maple with its spring tassels hanging out already, iris are well above ground, crocuses are blooming of course, and rose bushes, both hybrid teas and climbers, have their leaf buds developing. One more item: signs of the fever of the season are appearing in many of the human inhabitants hereabouts.

Compiled by Hilary Wallcox