Adjusting — The Blackbirds Know

The red winged blackbirds are back.

They were late this year and it seemed as if they knew the current state of affairs and just decided to bypass Southern Ontario for safer places up north. But then the first “ocaleeee” rang through the trees of the Victorian neighbourhood near us, from a high branch or the peak of a gingerbread-trimmed rooftop, flashes of red catching the eye as they moved about. And then there were more, and more again, like incidents of this virus, multiplying exponentially, so the cacophony is now almost deafening on certain blocks. Turns out, the blackbirds don’t care about current affairs. They return every March, regardless of whatever is going on with the humans they encounter, here to scream their fool heads off, decimate bird feeders, terrorize local cats, and generally welcome spring, pandemic be damned.

Despite the freakishly empty streets, this is heartening. Likewise the songs of the bluejays, chickadees and the laser blast of the male northern cardinal looking for love. Snowdrops and early crocuses are appearing in front yards, buds are close to bursting on various varietals of trees. The tips of privet hedge branches are a greener shade of grey than they were a week ago. The raggedy green leaves of the first dandelion burst from a crack in the soil against a sunny, south-facing wall.

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Signs of Spring

Out and about today, I saw a number of signs that winter is done and we’re moving on.

Birds – cardinals in the morning twilight as we walked the dogs, calling back and forth to one another. Mourning doves sitting on a hydro line, cooing softly. And while I was waiting for a bus, a whole swarm of chickadees (a group of chickadees is actually called a “banditry”, which is awesome, but these ones were almost swarming) were all over the pine trees in front of my building.

Flowers – no crocuses yet, but there are tiny white fritillaries in many of the yards nearby.

Spring cleaning – people are out raking leaves, picking up litter and cleaning windows. They’re also blasting the spring cleaning music – on my walk this afternoon I heard Lady Gaga, some funky jazz and Guns and Roses, all playing on radios while people worked nearby.

Drunk guys in the park by the medical centre. Here’s to a summer without setting anything on fire.

I also saw my first pair of sandals, to complement the many shorts that people were wearing.

It wasn’t an awful winter really – not a lot of snow, not especially cold. But spring sure is nicer.