House finches are back, as are juncos, nuthatches, chickadees and woodpeckers (like the red-bellied variety seen here), which means that spring is officially starting today (March 20).

House finches are back, as are juncos, nuthatches, chickadees and woodpeckers (like the red-bellied variety seen here), which means that spring is officially starting today (March 20).

by John Colgan-Davis

“Never cut a tree down in the wintertime … Never make a negative decision in the low time. Never make your most important decisions when you are in your worst moods. Wait. Be patient. The storm will pass. The spring will come.” — Robert Schuller

Those of you who have read my articles for a while will probably recognize that this is unusual coming from me, very unusual. But I will say it out loud anyway because it is how I feel. I am tired of winter. Tired. Exhausted. Done. Want it over. Done with. Gone. Fini. Out of here. Vanished. There, I said it!

This has been a tough winter for me between the constant shoveling, the days off from school, the endless buying and applying of salt, which is now cracking the sidewalks, the ice damaging the fence in front of the house and the constant gray of the skies. I have lost a lot of my appreciation of winter. Normally I marvel at the depth and “skyness” of the sky, its piercing blueness at night and in the early morning, the quiet splendor of the visible planets, the clear presence of constellations, and the glow of the moon which seems just a little sharper in winter.

I truly enjoy those things about the wintertime. And while we have had some nights and mornings like that, so much of the past two months has been filled with dull, gray skies that to me lack mystery and have taken away some of that pleasure I normally get from the sky on my way to and from work. And that “subdued” sense has been with me a bit too much this long and arduous winter. It has felt mostly tiring draining, and not too inspiring.

Fortunately, there are signs of things changing, as there always are. The robins and mockingbirds are back, and the mornings have been filled with their calls and their skittering around. Sunrise is around 6:30 now, and I have that wonderful feeling of watching the sun come into view as the 6:15 train makes its way into Center City.

It is light when I get home most nights, and walking up the street from the train station, listening to the wind chimes, and looking at the active bird feeders on the block is simply more pleasant when the sun is keeping you company. House finches are back, and juncos, nuthatches, chickadees and woodpeckers are mobbing the feeder in our backyard. And we have had some nights this past week with a clear crescent moon, Jupiter hanging out and Orion shining brightly.

Yes; believe it or not, spring is officially here as of March 20. (Spring normally starts March 21, but for some strange reason, my calendar says that it starts March 20 this year.) And spring weather, as Mark Twain once noted, can be strange, too; we once got snowed out of a Phillies home opener in April. But the signs of a turnaround are here now. And they are clear and unmistakable. Groundhog or no groundhog, snow shovel or no snow shovel, polar vortex or no polar vortex; we are clearly in the full grip of that beloved, eternal rotation that we call the seasons.

And despite all my griping and complaining, it is simply continuing to do what it always does and has done for centuries. And you know, when you step back and think about it, there is much solace and comfort in that.

John Colgan-Davis, a resident of West Mt. Airy, is a teacher, long-time observer of nature and harmonica player for The Dukes of Destiny, the city’s finest rockin’ blues band.