spring


As we were exploring the Namekagon Wildlife Barrens in northwestern Wisconsin we saw many bluebird houses distributed throughout the area.  Numerous agencies and individuals have worked hard to be sure the birds have access to good nesting areas.  At one road junction we stopped and watched this tree swallow as it flitted in and out of the house, flying to the trees nearby, then coming back to the house.  He was accompanied by a female which came and went many times too.  What a delight to let time stand still and watch their activities and absorb this little bit of spring!

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We were exploring at the Namekagon Barrens Wildlife Area this past weekend.  Located in Burnett County in northwestern Wisconsin, this is a globally rare landscape of pine and oak with a very sandy soil.  It’s quite startling to see the Barrens after driving miles through forested land; all of a sudden the sky opens up and the vista is wide with rolling hills and a prairie-like view.  The ground near the road was black where there had been a prescribed burn the day before, and the air had a pronounced smell of smoke.  After about 20 minutes, we saw smoke to the east and found they were doing some spot fires to finish what had been started the day before.  I’m excited to return to the area in the next week or so — the grass will be turning green with our recent rains, and soon the wildflowers will sprout and bloom.

And just like that, spring is here.  We’ve gone from brown to green within one week.  Some spring rain showers, bright sunshine, and warm temperatures in the 60’s and 70’s have caused spring to burst forth in Minnesota.  Grass is now green, and the trees and shrubs are bursting with their leaf buds.  Green shoots are visible from the warming soil, and I have even seen some daffodils that are blooming.  Our lilac bush has opened its tight buds into the warm air.  And luckily the snowfall predicted for this weekend did not appear.  Quickly our landscape will continue to change.

Last weekend we made a quick trip to Milwaukee.  Although it is further south than the Twin Cities, the temperatures were still cool and there was a brisk wind blowing.  We spent a few hours at the Milwaukee Art Museum and then drove north along the shoreline of Lake Michigan.  It was a wonderful drive close by the lake, then through some neighborhoods of large historic mansions and many public parks.  The lake was a beautiful almost-turquoise color that contrasted nicely with the clouds.  As cool as it was, people were out enjoying the day with its promise of spring.

Tuesday was a perfect spring day with white clouds, warm temperatures, and the smell of spring in the air.  There were hints of green in the lawns, buds were evident in the tree branches high above, and birds were singing their spring songs.  The white clouds danced in the brilliant blue sky as we softened ourselves to the warmth of the sun.  It was wonderful, and I was so thankful for getting outside and soaking it all up.  Because….the following day brought wet heavy snow, howling winds, and cold temperatures.  Winter has returned for a few days.

Our landscape has been white for so very long that a bright burst of yellow is a true signal of spring.  I spent some time at the McNeely Conservatory where it is spring, under glass.  Yellow and red tulips, ranunculus, crocus, and daffodils are wonderful (and needed) reminders of the season of spring.  These yellow tulips were set off by the blue reflection of the sky in the water behind them.  Soon enough we will have spring outside too, and not need to go inside to experience it.

The seasons move quickly from spring into summer and this year seems to have moved faster than normal.  Everything has turned to a beautiful bright green — the color of new growth, late spring, and early summer.  We’ve had enough rain to keep things fresh and the heat hasn’t set in yet.  This graceful fern was backlit in the garden, accentuating each leaf and its lovely color.  Its beauty was stunning, and I also know it will be fleeting as the green will become darker and not nearly as bright.  It’s a reminder to me to appreciate the season and the time we’re in now as it changes ever-so-quickly and what we see today will not be the same tomorrow.

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