Feb. 18 feels much too early for spring to be showing its face in northern Ohio (or even waiting in the wings, to throw in yet another cliche), but the signs were definitely there today. Not so much in the temperature, which at 40 with a breeze was quite cool enough for me, but in the life stirring in the plants and animals.
First there was the cardinal The northward extension of the northern cardinal's range is one of the joys of existence, as far as I'm concerned. Its one-note call is the only bird sound I ever learned to mimic in my Florida childhood, and the sound always makes me happy. I heard it this afternoon, but the note was accompanied by the follow-up "look at me" call, so I looked until I found the singer: a slender, handsome male high in a young tree on a residential street in the Old Orchard neighborhood of Toledo. Anyone walking past at the time might have found the sight of a gray-haired woman conversing with a barely-visible bird a tad odd, but I felt compelled to tell the fellow that I suspect he's a bit early. It is not quite time for a female bird's fancy to turn to thoughts of love.
Then, heading home, I saw what at first seemed a trick of the light: a reddish haze surrounding a tree's bare branches. It was a red maple, and the buds were indeed starting to open, as they were in several others in the vicinity. If the maple trees are about to flower, can spring be far off?