To spring — or not

The calendar proclaims spring already two days old. The classical music station unshelved every conceivable selection with some variety of spring in its title. Meanwhile, as I start to write, a gust of wind picks up recently fallen snow and, momentarily, creates a whiteout to blot out what is already predominantly white beyond my windows.

Although we experienced a mild fall and few complained about the green Christmas, winter, when it came, arrived with a vengeance. Wind, like the locals can’t recall, and steady precipitation made the groundhog’s promise a travesty as the roads turned to ice and the social calendar recorded one big X after another.

Snowdrops, those by now thick early harbingers, have delighted. The daffodils were up by 3 or 4 inches … yesterday. The marauding deer trampled them again last night as they returned to my unexpected salad bar: holly branches and ivy leaves. I sadly mark this as the first year to record such damage, possibly made worse by an ailing retriever who is NOT ALLOWED TO RUN. (Not that the deer paid him any more heed than they do to my shouts and wavings.)

The lake has opened in tiny slivers around part of its edges but remains strong enough to support the fearless deer (darn it) and, above all, every bit as white as the plowed fields beyond. Only the stubble of the corn stalks farther across add a touch of beige to an otherwise pretty bleak scene.

For reasons which have more to do with hormones than eyesight, the geese have reluctantly returned. Five fly in and take a turn around the ice both pairs squawkily laying claims to Goose Island and chasing the loner around. It means little, for all disappear before long. They or others will return once this silly ice business gets THAT out of its system. (Knowing a big snow was forecast for last night, I had held off taking cracked corn out to see if any of the five “knew” me from earlier years. At least two did make a tentative approach today.)

Still, something which definitely does not speak to me, tells the geese that the weather is indeed about to change. I watched agog as one goose attempted to mate while his female (one trusts) stood unaware on the ice. A sharp jab with her beak and she walked steadily away. I imagine he had words, at least to himself, as he lackadaisically strutted over to join another pair who professed much less interest in settling down. Many years have had the geese already firmly on their nests within the next two weeks. I suspect nesting and the goslings will be delayed this year.

I laughed as one goose absolutely terrified a pair of hunch-backed raccoons as they crossed the ice. They ended up cowering beneath the bridge until the bird walked off. No nest could be safe when any ground can still be reached on foot.

They need spring.

Heck! We all need spring.

Susan Crossett is a Cassadaga resident. Send comments to