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In a meeting Thursday morning, someone mentioned that they'd just seen a patch of March lilies blooming.
So after the meeting, I grabbed my camera and took off to get some photos of this early sign of spring. Sure enough, there they were. And on my way back to the office, I saw two more patches blooming.
I got excited. Spring is my favorite time of the year.
As the next few weeks pass, spring will gather its momentum and winter will be pushed aside for another year.
I can't wait for the scent of freshly mown grass, the sound of children's laughter as they play in the warm sunshine, fun flip-flops of all colors... all those special things that come with spring's arrival.
And that means that it won't be long before I'll be watching for a certain little fellow to return.
For the past several years, a little bird has made his home in and around a lilac bush in our backyard. The kids say it's not the same bird each year, but if it's not, then he's taught others his tricks.
He hides in the bush much of the time, keeping watch over the birdfeeder on the patio. He apparently likes one side of the feeder better than the others because if another bird dares to perch on "his" side, look out! He leaps from the bush into the air - fast enough that the bush is left quivering - and chases the other bird away. He nibbles a bit and then returns to his perch in the lilac bush or on the gutter alongside the back of the house.
But my feathered friend is just one of the signs that spring is on its way.
Chilly mornings bring with them a light coating of frost on the windshield of the car. But, by afternoon, the sun is burning its way through the cold, bringing a touch of warmth for a few treasured hours. By evening, winter seems to have won the battle once again.
The kids start shedding clothes in the afternoons, just having complained that morning about how cold it was. Of course, that also means that they'll start misplacing hoodies and jackets.
But during those precious hours of warm sunshine, we get a taste of the months to come.
For several weeks, there appears to be a tug of war between winter and spring ... each gaining or losing a few hours of their power. But it's not long till new green growth begins to poke through the cold brown earth. That's when my feathered friend and his buddies will return from their winter homes and scatter birdseed across my patio.
Soon, the early morning chill is gone. The days get warmer. Only in the late evenings does winter seem to gather its fading strength. Before long, spring settles in for good, more flowers begin to bloom and the sun warms the earth.
The smells, the sounds, the feel of spring.
I can't wait.