April 27, 2023
Spring does not seem to come silently. From the first drip of snowmelt, spring is a season that plays on the ear. Even in the lowly ditch of the farm field the water drops quickly gather and begin to gurgle. Every stream swells and rushes. Every river spills over its banks.
The iced over lakes groan in the gusting winds until the ice finally splits and cracks. Rafts of ice shove ashore and pile on the eastern shore. The wind too gusts through the trees, sounding like huge ocean breakers, powerful, relentless.
Then, even in the earliest days of determined spring the flocks of geese and ducks and sandhill cranes fight through the stiff wind, still from the northwest, with the sear of stiff wing feathers, filling the air with raucous calling. Soon the regrouped symphony of songbirds is in constant chorus with peeper frogs. Tom turkeys begin to gobble on the roost to hens that are already scratching for breakfast, purring and yelping as they make their way out to the open field. In the poplar brush a male ruffed grouse finds a log and beats his wings in a whirl to send out a thumping call to any hens within hearing distance.
Animals large and small emerge from hibernation. The black bear splashes through the woodland puddle, turning over logs for insects and grubs. The chipmunk suddenly appears on the stump and begins its methodical high-pitched “chuck”, “chuck”, “chuck”. The whitetail deer, even stepping with caution, crunches last year’s leaves on the forest floor – now stiff and brittle with each step.
Spring does not seem to come silently. And yet, there is a silence to spring. A trained ear can perceive it. In the last week of April spring does come silently. In the moist, rich loam of the forest floor, before tree leaves open and block the sunshine, the wood flowers spring up and begin to open. Wood Anemones, blood root, hepatica, violets and trout lilies speckle the molted leaves with tiny whites, light purples, and even some yellows. Unlike the rest of the season, they arrive unheard. Rising only inches high, and subtle to the eye, they are easily overlooked. Each bud unfolds muted. And yet, is there not a melody of delight in their humble beauty? Perhaps the most perfect beauty of spring sings silent.