In all this relentless Revolutionary War history stuff there has been precious little space to go, er, Walking the Berkshires. Those of you with free registration can get your fix of my recent nature writing in the Lakeville Journal at this link, and since I cannot find today's article online, below in full:
"To Every Thing There is a Season"
By Tim Abbott
I heard a chorus of wood frogs over the weekend, resounding from the wetlands along Sand Road in Canaan on Sunday afternoon. I thought the weather was still too cool during the rain on Friday, but apparently love stirs even the coldest blooded creatures and the great amphibian migration is on. As I write this story, the forecast for tonight is for rain and temperatures in the mid 40s, which should bring out the frogs, toads and especially the salamanders in earnest. Emily and Elias and I will once again head out with our flashlights to escort yellow spotted salamanders across the road in Salisbury and nearby Sheffield where we have found them before.
This Spring has seen a convergence of two timed events that for me herald the turning of the season. Our maple tree continued to give copious amounts of sap right into April, just as the amphibians began their march. Had I set two spiles instead of the single pail, it would have been a year that rivaled 2009 for production. As it is I have sugared off more than 1/2 a gallon from that one tap and will likely get another quart before the sap turns buddy and the run is over. The butternut experiment is on hold, as a forester friend reminded me that these trees leaf out much later than maples so their sap will not rise as early in the season.
My birthday is during the second week of April, and I associate this time of year with the last vanishing pile of snow and the first snowdrop and crocus blooms. Last year was so warm there were daffodils in blossom on my birthday, nearly 10 days ahead of schedule. Things feel more in balance for 2011 after our long and snowy winter. Already I can see the tips of Spring ephemeral wildflowers - trillium and trout lily - emerging from the black mud of moist woodlands. I await the first mourning cloak butterfly, beating its tattered wings after overwintering for a few more weeks before its life cycle ends. I look forward to visiting the herring run down at the Cape in another two weeks and hope to see the number of fish increasing after several years with a closed season. This is a time, after all, of renewal, and faith in the return of life. They are swinging bats in ballparks, and hopes are high on opening day.
As April advances, there will be other timed events that most of us will never see. Bog turtles will bask on tussocks, and rattlesnakes on the mountainsides. Things secretive and small will sprout in crevices and scurry beneath the pale moon. The song of the wood thrush will trill in our greening woods, and fingerling trout will dart in secluded pools.
No matter how gray or dreary, this is the time of year when the relentless urge to rise and reproduce sets the very grass to rampant growth. I make my resolutions in Spring, that time of eternal second chances, rather than in the bleak midwinter. I watch my children marvel on the night of the salamanders, finding their place in the dance.