In Search of Spring

Although our winter here in the Blue Ridge has actually been pretty mild, I find myself longing to see green fields and hillsides once again. With only a few weeks of winter remaining, I set out to look for signs that winter is loosening its grip on the land and giving way to the season of renewal. My last walk was several days ago and I was amazed at how much the landscape had changed.

The growing moss pays no heed to the frigid temps of the water

The growing moss pays no heed to the frigid temps of South Buffalo Creek


Another type of moss growing up through the leaves

Immature cones forming on terminal ends of Virginia Pine

Immature cones forming on Virginia Pine

Still another kind of moss

Still another kind of moss

The birds are also giving clues that spring is on its way. The Eastern Phoebes can be heard issuing their phoebe, phoebe calls as they check out our porch rafters for the choicest nest sites. I’m also seeing the Eastern Bluebirds once again that had retreated to lower elevations to escape the worst of winter, and a Northern Mockingbird pair is busy chasing intruders out of their favorite tangle of vines.

Although the nights are cold, it’s the breeding season for many animals. Last night, my husband and I were awakened by the shrill cries of a fox in the front yard. The cries, a little higher-pitched than a coyote, went on for about a minute. My first thought was of the chickens, but I knew they were safely locked up in the coop. Possibly, the fox was calling to attract a mate. 

The lengthening of the days is obvious to our hens, who have started laying again, so it’s just a matter of time until winter blows its last gasp. I just need to be patient.

There is a way that Nature speaks, that land speaks. Most of the time we are not patient enough, quiet enough, to pay attention to the story. — Linda Hogan

21 thoughts on “In Search of Spring

  1. Spring is my favorite time of year, too. We’re just seeing the first signs of spring here in the Pacific Northwest, but I find myself making note of each and every one.

  2. Your birdlife sounds so exciting, I will have to look up Pheobes as I’ve not heard of them. Signs of spring here in the UK too, also hearing the foxes calling at night- I really like that thought, foxes on both sides of the atlantic calling in the night!

    • Foxes calling on both sides of the Atlantic – I really like that too! Many people think the phoebe’s call is annoying because they say their name over and over and over again. I guess I’m usually focusing on other things, so I don’t really notice it. They are great insect-eaters!

  3. Lovely post and I’m getting so excited about Spring too. Enjoying that time of the early evening when the lambs and ewes near us are so noisily bleating to each other. But I love the way you take note of the smaller signs too. I find it great going on a woodland walk with my 5 year old. She gets distracted by so many little things on the way, it really makes me take more of a meandering route and ‘pay attention to the story’. Not that we’re quiet!.

    • Thanks, Andrea. I have grandchildren and I find that when I go on walks with them I do see more. They are observant and curious and sometimes notice things that I don’t.

  4. Another Brit checking in! Cold here too and so looking forward to spring in all its glory. Lovely to see your photos with early signs of hope! My daffodils are growing fast but no lovely yellow heads just yet, but my irises are still looking good! Great post 🙂

    • Thanks, Sherri. Can’t wait to see the spring ephemerals appear in the woods. Our marsh irises have just started coming up. Our elevation keeps it a few degrees cooler than in the valley below..

      On Sat, Mar 2, 2013 at 9:11 PM, Wood and Field

  5. Even the coldest Winter cannot stop new growth occuring insulated by the leaves and debris of Autumn, and the circle of life begins again with the mateing cry from the wild.

    I love reading your blog from a distant place the name known so well….. the TV series ‘The Virginian’ and from ‘The Blue Ridge Mountans of Virginia on the Trail of the Loansom Pine’ makes me nostalgic for Laurel and Hardy.

    Keep the photos coming


    • You’re absolutely right. Winter can delay, but not stop, the season of renewal.

      On Mon, Mar 4, 2013 at 5:50 PM, Wood and Field

    • Yep, I’m loving it as well Tracy. We’ve had phoebes here for about a month. Last year, they competed with bluebirds and wrens for the choice nesting places in our porch rafters, so they’re starting earlier this year!

  6. Thanks for sharing your glimpse of spring. We just got another foot of snow yesterday and temps never got higher than -10 C today, so spring is a ways off yet. Still, the mosses are green under the snow, along with a few other vascular plants that stay green all winter and provide food for the small mammals under there.

    Great photos. My ID skills are better in person, but I’m pretty sure you’re last picture is of some sort of Polytricum moss. One of my favourites. Enjoy your first day of spring tomorrow 🙂

  7. I might have mentioned that I have a sister in Minnesota and I’ve been commiserating with her over all they snow they’ve had. Winter is loosening its grip here. Some early flowers are up and the grass is turning green. Seems the older I get, the more I appreciate spring! Take care, Heather. 🙂

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