Vernal equinox arrives with set of mysteries

Submitted by Art & Barb Straub

What surprises will the Vernal Equinox share as an odd winter melts into a new season? March marched in on tippy-toes and continues to slither about with little clamor other than a continuous bone-chilling northwest wind. Plant growth and bird/animal movement defies past patterns. What to do, other than go with the flow?

Many are observing greenery in the form of crocus blooming, tulips tinged with promise, peonies poking tips tenuously from their beds, trees bravely budding with maples grudgingly and sporadically yielding their sweet sap since March 10th. A Mourning Cloak butterfly plied the brisk air on that date, and one wondered what sustenance he might dine upon.

Good news from the west, as poultry man Vern Bienfang announced that the errant white hen turkey which had been consorting with a flock of wild male turkeys in the woods nearby, returned to the safety of the roost after twenty-five days of absence! No sooner was she back, spreading the news of the pleasures of the wild, then a second hen left the safety of the poultry yard for the adventure of freedom with the nearby handsome enticing Tom turkeys. Adding to the confusion, faithful dog Spice discovered a garter snake on March 12th. This set the yard into a melee. Perhaps that’s why Vern’s remaining turkey hens began laying eggs, while the geese and ducks followed suit. Top that off with one of his mouse patrollers being very pregnant. Start knitting little jackets!

March 16th found a hot ‘tip’ accompanied by photos of hundreds of swans on Scotch Lake near Cleveland. Swanee the swift Focus was chomping at the bit when she heard that, and we were off to the races. Checking the St. Thomas Nature area for heralded sandhill cranes, she cut across to Cleveland then circled around Scotch, German, and Jefferson Lakes to find ‘zero’ fowl of any kind. Assuming that the birds were ‘other places,’ we treaded cross country to Savage and Emily Lakes, ending up at the Ottawa Swamps. Result: Cold turkey or Na da! A birdless day.

By this time, Swanee was down in the duckless dumps, so she swept past the NEY Lake (Brandt Lake on Chatfield Road, to find a few Trumpeter swans, many Canada geese, and countless ducks. We were greeted in Henderson by almost two dozen American robins, then headed for home south on Hwy #93. Wending its unconcerned leisurely skyway, a lone turkey vulture (buzzard) drifted overhead. A set of immature eagles sat atop nude trees along the way…stunned, awed, puzzled, wondering what was ahead. Sylvia and Sylvan, faithful Trumpeter swans drifting effortlessly on the Coachlight, must have had similar feelings. What lies ahead??? They, like ourselves, must be wondering what is in the future for we humans. As we reached Swannee’s stable, the yellow light on her dashboard lit up, signaling a flat tire. The end of a perfect day, eh?