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Rural Roots - Rural Roots is a column by Fred Jones
2013-05-17 at NOON

Is spring finally make its stand?

It snowed. Again!  But this time, thank goodness, it did not stay.  Perhaps, we thought as we head to the middle of May, winter is relenting; spring is making a stand.

The day before was cold and windy but the sun shone brightly. My wife Laura and I decided it was time to inspect our trail system and begin clean-up. After all, two weekends ago, we had a ferocious snow storm with ferocious winds. The result of those winds I could plainly see from our kitchen window: the start of our riding trails was now blocked by two fallen trees. So I grabbed the chainsaw and we hopped aboard the quad.

The trail entrance is beside a ditch that allows run-off to drain. Suddenly, a pair of mallard ducks burst from the ditch, startling me. Off they flew quacking as they winged away. “Ack!!” I shouted.  Laura, being calmer, observed, “Sure hope that pair isn’t planning to nest there.  It’ll be dry by the end of June.”

“Naw,” I answered. “Any port-in-the-storm. They take advantage of open water where they can find it, which isn’t much nor what they were expecting.”

Downed tree No. 1 was the top of a poplar sufficient in length to block the trail. I sawed while Laura hauled away branches and then we both moved the larger pieces. Downed tree No. 2 was a balsam that had broken half way up. Its branches were still covered in green needles. As I commenced to saw, I discovered just how dull the chain was.  “This is going to take more time and since the wood is green and the chain being dull, I’m just going to delimb it and only cut sections light enough for us to remove from the trail,” I declared.

When we had exited Casa Jones, we had worn our rubber boots thinking enough snow had disappeared from the bush so as not to require winter foot-wear. Wrong! Trying to maintain stable footing while sawing was precarious at points, due to the ice under the snow.  “Have you noticed that we goofed wearing these boots instead of something with more of a grip?” Laura agreed.

I downed the saw and we hefted the logs off of the trail. “Shall we head in a bit for a look-see?” We didn’t get far. 

While the level of snow had greatly reduced over the last couple of days when the temperature was much more spring-like, underneath what remained was ice.  “Are we sure that we want to take the quad in there?” Laura asked.  Nope. Better to wait until more warm weather does its thing, when all of the snow and especially the ice melts.  Then we can venture forth to clear what might block unobstructed passage by horses and humans alike.

The warm weather earlier in the week had brought out all of the birds flitting about singing joyously their spring songs. Geese were honking from the direction of the upper beaver pond; a pair of mallards was spotted grazing in the large southern paddock; and the Sandhill cranes returned to peck at the ground. Red-wing blackbirds were swooping about landing on fence posts screeching their rusty gate call. And, of course, robins – lots of robins.

Then Saturday, it snowed. As I mentioned, fortunately, it didn’t stay but when on Saturday, I exited the house to walk dogs and fetch newspaper, the only sound I heard was wind.  In the afternoon, I gazed out the picture window to the south to see only one Sandhill crane feeding at the south end of what we call Pond Paddock. “Hey, Laura, there’s only one crane now.  Where is the other one?”  The day before I’d heard quite a Sandhill crane ruckus coming from the beaver pond.  “Hope all is well with this pair and that the missing one is perhaps sitting on eggs in a nest,” I said.  Laura concurred.

Sunday was better though still requiring a fire in the fireplace to banish the morning chill.  On the way to the newspaper, I heard again a mixed chorus of birdsong.  “Good,” I thought, “winter can’t keep a determined bird down.”

The clouds scuttle by; the winds blow; but there will be no daffs emerging from our flower garden. That time came and went while the snow lay deep upon the ground way past when it should have disappeared.  And while the ice is off of the upper pond, I can still see the lower one covered. 

Oh, yeah– I also saw a flock of geese flying south. Should we worry?

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