“The first day of spring is one thing, and the first spring day is another. The difference between them is sometimes a month.”
— Henry Van Dyke
The first day of spring this year was March 20, but March can be a fickle month with weather bringing everything from icy winds or snow to downright balmy days.
Nature bursts with activity with the lengthening days and higher temperatures as the last of winter’s cold weather fades away.
With the area surrounded by mountains, one of the easiest patterns to detect is that the lower valleys bloom and leaf out while the top of the mountains appear to be barren with leafless trees. Several weeks may pass before spring arrives on the mountaintops.
In late March, trillium begins blooming as the snow recedes — coinciding with the mountain bluebird migration. Nature is busiest in the spring with millions of birds migrating. The first bumble bee out of hibernation or butterfly flying over the lawn is a welcome sight as the spring blossom of fruit trees, cherries, plums, and apples signal the end of winter and the beginning of new life.
The last few days have been filled with signs of spring. Migratory birds are starting to make an appearance, but only a few. A small amount of Canada geese and some tundra swans were seen on the river. As more open water becomes available we will see more birds. The migration is just in its beginning stages. The good news is we don’t have a problem with mosquitoes yet!
Depending on the weather pattern, it’s often hard to know if spring has arrived, especially if a late winter storm descends upon the Idaho Panhandle. Regardless of whether March comes in like a lion and out like a lamb, you can always be assured that winter is on its way out when you see some of my favorite harbingers of spring such as bluebirds, red-winged blackbirds or robins.
I am ready for that spring smell. I love to inhale the earthy spring fragrance that the land produces in March. It’s equal parts rain and soil, grass and ozone, creating a perfume that no amount of chemical wizardry can replicate. Sometimes, I like to stand outside early in the morning in the spring with my nose pointed skyward, eyes closed and breathe deeply and think how wonderful it is to be in Boundary County!
And remember: Spring is when you feel like whistling, even with a shoe full of slush.