northern spring awakening

April 23

Today, I walked across the ice-and-snow covered lake to the point, where a series of wolf tracks converged on the shore, then disappeared up over the granite ledge . A set of moose tracks emerged from the same general area headed out toward the island. I discovered the vixen’s den burrowed into the bank behind the cabins. I’ve spotted her out and about with her swollen teats, hunting for food, heard her barking last night.

The blackbirds are making a racket, waiting for the marsh to thaw.

April 25

Woke to the music of the white throated sparrow singing her “O Sweet Canada Canada” outside my window and the percussion of the rain pattering on the tin roof. The morning fog, rising off the ice, was thick as cotton (or maybe it was whipped frosting), blurring the separation between frozen water below and gray sky above. This afternoon, an otter went running and sliding across the lake like a child on a slip-and-slide in summer.
The rain is helping the lake to finally begin melting. Soon these rolling frozen furrows will be waves lapping the summer shore.

April 26

The day dawns bright and crisp (28 degrees), the sky a brilliant blue after a crystal night where the almost-full moon cast it’s silver light upon the birches and the still frozen water. The days are growing warmer (near 60 degrees yesterday) as each day spring inches nearer, even as the ice inches away from the shoreline. The quality of the ice changes day by day. It is now rough and pecked on its surface, no longer smooth. The waters uphill are rushing with the snow that melts by day. Inland vernal pools are filling.
The wood ducks have found their way here now, their ooeek calls fill the early evening air. The ruffed grouse are strutting their stuff, proudly puffing that ruff while displaying their tails and drumming their wings for any seemingly indifferent females who might be gleaning nearby.
Yesterday, while walking I caught a scent of something so terribly sweet that it made me pause to look closer, wondering what could be possibly blooming in these bare winter woods. Even the butterflies seem to be awakening, alighting on the cindered roads. For minerals, I presume. And O Sweet Canada continues to sing her morning song.

April 27

Tonight, a picnic dinner with my friend on a sloping rock next to the frozen bay. A beaver decided to join us, munching away on his twigs perhaps 15 feet from where we sat, taking advantage, as were we, of the late day sun ‘warming’ the 3 feet or so of open water along the shoreline. We heard him before we spotted him, chomping so noisily I thought at first he was a duck flapping his wings in the water for a bath.

A long walk ensued, following in the tracks of the moose, where we spotted a turkey and a hawk and heard the first wood thrush of spring.

The snow continues to melt, carving rivulets and tumblng over rocks and winter-fallen limbs. The sap is likewise running, dripping from woodpecker holes. I caught a drop on my finger, put it to my lips for a taste.

A rainbow, high in the sky, arced from one end to the other of a solitary cloud in an otherwise clear sky, neither foot touching the earth. My friend called it a “sun dog” and said it portends rain. The forecast is indeed for cold rain, possibly freezing, or snow tomorrow.

Spring in the north .

April 28

Cold and raw, freezing rain this evening. The day was blustery and crisp. My body is tired this evening, for though I have been sharing the delights of this late winter north, there is also much work to be done to prepare the lodge for summer guests, who are due to begin arriving next weekend. By day, I have been washing windows and wiping down walls, painting, hauling water ( it is too cold yet to turn on the taps) and firewood, doing yard work and carting debris. There are mattresses to lift and bathrooms to scrub.

However, the remuneration for me is most generous – the opportunity to dwell for a time in this place that loves me like no other. To be with the Earth here as she awakens from her long sleep, attending to each nuance of that awakening, like observing a lover in bed next to me, stirring then settling, then rolling over and snoring, then eyes peeping open with a yawn and a smile, arms welcoming me into embrace. These vulnerable intimate moments bonding me ever more.

Both of these experiences here… the physical work and the more sensual, quiet attending… remind me that I am a part of something quite precious and rare.

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