Although it's blustery and gray, and the temperature has dropped almost twenty degrees since I got up this morning, spring--not just official spring--is definitely here.
The local maple syrup producers have taken in their sap-collecting equipment after what we were told by one sugar-bush owner was a good season, better than last year. Most of the collection is done the modern way, using plastic tubing strung from tree to tree and sometimes a vacuum pump--you can see what the collecting tubes look like here--but one stand of maples we drove by had old-fashioned buckets with curved lids. If you look closely at the photo, you can see that the sap is up to the lip of the pail; in fact, it was running over when Jim took the photo.
In the photo below, you get a sense of the woods and of how old these maples are:
One of the things we most look forward to each spring is the return of the sandhill cranes. This year we first noticed them on March 6, when Jim heard them call. They often come into our back yard, particularly appreciating the bit of water that runs out of the geothermal system's drain.
And while I can't get a good photo of the waterfowl on our small lake--they're too far away for our camera--it's worth noting that migratory season for Canada geese and several species of ducks has begun in earnest. Yesterday, in addition to the geese that have been around for a while now, Jim spotted mallards, mergansers, buffleheads, ring-necked ducks, and a wood duck--this despite the fact that there was no open water, only ice, on our lake.
The male redwing blackbirds are also back (the females join them some weeks later), and the robins have been about for a few weeks. The male goldfinches are beginning to get their brilliant yellow color back, slowly but surely, after a winter of olive drab.
Before you know it, the spring peepers will be singing their jingle-bells song. Ah, spring! Eventually the weather will catch up with the animal world.