Saturday, March 7, 2009

The First Whiff Of Spring

Hi Folks!

Welcome back! Thanks for stopping by!

Those of you beleaguered souls who got slammed recently by that huge winter storm that hit the eastern seaboard may find this hard to believe, but spring is finally in the air. I know this because when I fed the ducks on Friday, they were already in the process of pairing off for the spring mating season. Pretty Boy and Girlfriend Duck were paddling around together. Freckle Duck turned up with the same four optimists who followed her everywhere last year. Ethel was off on the far side of the pond with Big Boyfriend Duck. No one's started laying eggs, yet, but they will, soon.

Don't get me wrong - it's not that I believe spring is actually here. I grew up in Northwest Ohio, so I already know that no matter how many mild days we have in the next few weeks, the Gods will absolutely throw at least one more storm at us in which we'll be inundated with multiple inches of snow, roads will be impassable, and spirits will be crushed by the wind chills that we had foolishly hoped were a thing of the past. It happens every year.

The animals know when the seasons are changing, though. For instance, at some point every fall, the horses out at the barn will start growing woolly winter coats. The thickness of the coat, and the timing of the growth, are actually much better indicators of the severity of the coming winter than anything the weather guy on t.v. can predict. Sometimes, a horse will get very woolly very early in the fall, and everyone at the barn thinks, "Uh-oh, it's gonna be a long winter!" And, inevitably, it does indeed end up being a long, hard winter.

The ducks at McKinnon's Pond don't seem to acquire any extra feathers to get them through hard winters, but you can always tell when spring is coming by the way they act: they start pairing off; they begin choosing territory for their mates, and start fighting the other ducks over it; the girls turn up at the feeds with feathers missing from their necks. That last occurs because the drakes tend to pull out the girls' neck feathers as they're mating with them. All of these are classic signs that, if you pay attention to them, will tell you that change is in the air.

So, while there may still be ice on the pond, and winter-cold temperatures, there also seems to be some internal clock that tells the ducks that these are temporary issues that will soon be replaced by sunshine and warmth. I sure hope the ducks are right because I've had enough of winter to last me quite some time!

That's all for now, folks. I sure hope that all of you are getting excited about the end of winter, and starting to make plans for springtime. I'm already mentally purchasing bags of mulch for the flower beds in my back yard! Until next time, take care and please be kind to all the critters!

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