Driving along back country roads under faultless blue skies on my way to work, I noticed the bright orange pails suspended from the trunks of bare trees. Two pails were pinned to each trunk in what looked to be a stand of perhaps twelve to fifteen maples. The weatherman was calling for a high of 55; soon the sap would be running.
Further along the road I passed by a farm. A harrow and plow stood next the barn in the morning sun, silently waiting for the tractor’s hitch. Overhead, a huge red-tailed hawk circled, scouting the brown expanse of fallow fields below for signs of movement. I cracked the car window to sample the air’s sharp sweetness.
Our neighbor’s rhododendron leaves have relaxed their tight grip. The last of the icy snow on the road has melted, leaving behind a dusting of cinnamon sand along the shoulder.
This afternoon I took a walk down by the river. Gingerly I shuffled over patches of hard packed snow scattered along the path. Pickerel Cove lay locked in ice, but the river flowed freely, swollen from melting snows. A pair of Canada geese paddled leisurely along the opposite bank, occasionally dipping their black bills into the dark water.
I stopped on the bank to study the minute sandy canyons, each one a miniature riverbed carved out by the run-off from the melting ice. From bare branches high overhead the notes of a solitary song bird sounded in the clear cold air.
As I neared our house, I paused to watch a black wooly caterpillar stretching its way across the road, another early sign of spring.