Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Searching for spring

Daughter Chelsea came home for a visit and brought her friend Shannon. Friday night we discussed what we would do for fun that weekend. Naturally our thoughts went to one topic….adventure.

The weather had been unseasonably mild the week before and Chelsea thought that possibly spring was almost here. Shannon was so sure that it was close that we decided to go look for it. Maybe spring was already here… just hiding. It was settled… the following morning we would set out in search of spring.

The day broke gray and rainy, well… maybe not rainy, more of a heavy mist. Shannon was sure that spring was doing its best to hide from us. We would not be detoured or dissuaded we readied ourselves to search for spring.

Even though we were searching in our own backyard we prepared as though we were heading into the big wood. We had our compasses and our GPS. We checked the batteries and carefully folded our map. We packed matches and a hand crank flashlight. Shannon packed it all neatly into the adventure bag and we strapped on our hunting knives and a machete and we were ready to go. We decided to take Sydney in case we ran into danger. We learned the hard way along time ago that you cannot ever be too ready.

We headed out the back door and set our sights on the phone tower on Snyder hill. Our first stop was to pay our respects to a fallen friend. Just into the woods we stopped at Bear’s grave marker. We thought of good times and what a great dog he was. We dedicated this adventure to him and headed off.

Shannon soon found a tree with all the bark rubbed off. “Did spring do that?” She asked. "Not spring but a big whitetail buck" I told her. They rub the trees with their antlers to remove the velvet and to polish them for fighting. Being that the antlers grow over summer and they rub them clean for the fall Rut. I had to tell her this definitely was not a sign of spring.

Soon Sydney picked up a strong scent. “I think he smells spring!” Shannon exclaimed. Sydney pulled her to a trail where the leaves we all tore up and the ground was disturbed. Shannon was sure spring had come down the trail. We examined it carefully… we found acorn shells and beech husks. Shannon found a large feather. "Turkeys" I told her. They are looking for food. They can’t wait for spring to come either.

The trail led to a very wet and muddy area. Half buried in the side of the hill was a cement box. It was covered with moss and leaves. It looked quite old and had a square hole in the top. Water was pouring out of a pipe in the front side. “Is spring hiding in that box, paps?” Shannon asked. “Well (no pun) there is “a” spring in that box, but it is not the one we are looking for.” I explained. The box is an old cistern. The Lid was missing but it still held quite a bit of water. There are old horse shoes cemented in the top that helped secure the cover in place. We took a quick drink of the ice cold water coming out of the pipe and headed on our way.

At the summit of the hill we found the fence to the phone tower. The signs said no trespassing. “I never trespass” said Shannon. “Real adventurers never do” I assured her.

The top of the hill was thick with mist and fog. A light rain had begun to fall. We could not even see the lights on the phone tower. Shannon thought it was kind of scary. “I think spring is hiding up here” she said. We found shelter in a grove of hemlocks. The branches hung low and the ground was covered with “baby pinecones”. We rested in silence under the trees protected from the rain.

Out of the mist… there was a noise… once…twice then more and more, louder and louder. A clear “honk” ”honk” all around us but we couldn’t see a thing. “What are they paps?” Shannon whispered. “They are geese I” said. Heading north because… its spring. Shannon was so happy…finally we had found spring. It had tried its best to hide from us but we finally found it. We may not have seen it but we sure heard it!

We were ready to head back but our adventure was not over yet. We started down the hill and we found some peculiar trees. They were hollow on the inside and a lot of the bark was missing. Shannon thought somebody had spilled their jelly beans in the tree, but they smelled funny. I told Shannon that a porcupine lived in that tree and that they sleep all winter inside the tree. They come out in the spring and eat the bark on the trees for food. “They come out in the spring!”She exclaimed. I told her he was so hungry after his winter sleep he was eating his own house. We both thought he must not be very bright and he should leave the jelly bean making to the Easter bunny.

Farther down the hill we found some hairy scats. “What is that paps?” Shannon asked. “Owl pellets” I told her. Owls like to eat mice and other animals that come out at night, but they do not like the fur or the bones so they barf them out in pellets. I suggested we tear one apart so we could find the bones. Shannon thought that was something a porcupine might do, but not her. I also explained that owls have their babies early in the spring so they will already be hatched and hungry when all the other spring babies are vulnerable to be caught. The owl parents would then barf up food for the babies to eat. I suggested we look for the tree they were nested in. Shannon was positive that the owls were definitely rooming with the porcupine being they were on about the same intelligence level.

We returned to the back yard and headed down through Grandma Irons yard we noticed crocuses blooming around her house. Spring had come while we were gone. It was probably there all the time and we really did not have to look very far, but we were glad we did.

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