Sunday, March 07, 2010

The Buglers are Back!

The first sound I heard when I arrived at Pheasant Branch Conservancy yesterday was the bugling of Sandhill Cranes. Birders from all around Wisconsin enthusiastically reported their arrival yesterday. Though spring is still just a few weeks away, the first Killdeer calls offered a sense of assurance that the greatest spectacle of nature on Earth has begun.

I think that most everyone has something from the very first spring they can remember, even if only a fragment of a memory. A favorite of mine is the smell of thawing ground combined with the moist decay of woodland. It's probably one of my earliest memories I have learned to associate with the coming of spring. I think these accumulated fragments fuel our ability to reminisce from spring to spring throughout our lives.

As a learned amateur naturalist, the accumulation of these memories matures over time into a phylogenic parade of reunion and rebirth. Whether a stream swelling with runoff, blossoming wildflowers, an insect hatching, or perhaps a recoiling earthworm, such "first of the season" observations can trigger a peculiar emotion that seems similar to déjà vu. Even if merely an anomaly of memory, it adds a kind of transcendent quality to spring's glory as it unfolds through March, April, and May.

Spring is also a time of reunion with fellow birders and friends I haven't seen since fall migration. During this spring's transition, rebirth, and reunion, remember let your binoculars rest against your chest once in a while and simply let your eyes, ears, and lungs collect the natural beauty all around you. Looking at the ground, you might decide to kneel in the grass and inspect the tiny lives residing there. To the sky, face south and feel the wind. If the breeze feels warm against your face, then perhaps millions of feathered promises will reunite with your favorite bird haunt the following morning!

All images © 2010 Mike McDowell