March 20th is the Vernal Equinox, which means days are getting longer. It's not yet time for the first green shoots or delicate blossoms, but subtle changes are bringing in the new season. Gazing through the library windows onto Lake Wingra and its woods, I'm reminded of Henry David Thoreau's description of spring's arrival in Walden:
One attraction in coming to the woods to live was that I should have leisure and opportunity to see the spring come in. The ice in the pond at length begins to be honey-combed, and I can set my heel in it as I walk. Fogs and rains and warmer suns are gradually melting the snow; the days have grown sensibly longer; and I see how I shall get through the winter without adding to my wood-pile, for large fires are no longer necessary. I am on the alert for the first signs of spring, to hear the chance note of some arriving bird, or the striped squirrel's chirp, for his stores must be now nearly exhausted, or see the woodchuck venture out of his winter quarters.
Walden by Henry David Thoreau
Spring is a gradual process of awakening and setting about the work of life once again. Ice melts, critters leave their winter burrows, birds sing. Often, to borrow a phrase from Sy Montgomery, spring's arrival is "more of a schlep than a saunter" (28).
The Curious Naturalist, by Sy Mongomery
But, it's on its way nonetheless. As we get anxious for warmer weather and greener surroundings, we might take the time to slow down and observe the changes happening around us each day. Wisconsin ecologist Aldo Leopold noted that "a March morning is only as drab as he who walks in it without a glance skyward, ear cocked for geese" (28).
A Sand County Almanac, by Aldo Leopold
If you're unsure how to get started, Montgomery's essay "Spring Flowers" offers some tips for observing the coming season.
For an introduction to great nature writing, explore these anthologies from the library collection:
Other great nature reads from the library include:
Or, for an eccentric read on the intersections between nature and pop culture, check out Flight Maps.
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