In Like a Lamb
edited: Wednesday, March 03, 2010
By Juliet Waldron
Rated "G" by the Author.
Posted: Wednesday, March 03, 2010
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March, too much snow in February, and the advent of the snow birds--the real ones.
That’s what March just did, thank-goodness! We have had our fill of snow this year, even here in warm and windy Central Pa. I know folks in the Southeast have really been clobbered, but this year seems to have been your turn for ice, snow, wild wind and all varieties of inclement unpleasantness.
My oldest granddaughter, at college in southern Maryland, is a Georgia girl. To her, snow was mysterious, magical, a thing you saw on television, looking clean and beautiful. She hadn’t expected three huge storms during her sophomore semester, but she got them anyway. At first, of course, she thought it was neat, made snowmen with her friends and had snow ball fights, but by the second storm, one which acquired a nasty ice coating and days of cancelled classes, she was clearly not so pleased. By the third enormous storm, snow had become what it is to most of us old people--a stone drag.
However, it is March, and there is reason to hope for a time of putting away the snow shovel. The days are significantly longer; the sun feels warmer, even if there are still wide patches of white on the ground. Male cardinals are doing their spring act in the beech across the alley, fluttering at each other and singing stridently. (The cartoonist Gary Larsen became my idol forever when he explained that what they’re saying to each other is: “You and What Army? You and What Army?” closely followed by a chorus of “Hey, hey, Babeeee! Hey--Babeeee!”)
Our star winged visitors are in residence, too. These are the snow geese and rarer Tundra swans, now making a pit stop nearby at Middlecreek Wildlife Refuge. It’s a sight, one which might become uncommon if the surrounding farmland, where the birds graze on harvest leftovers, continue to become developments.
I noticed these birds the first spring after we moved, as a V against a torn gray sky. Both snow geese and Tundra Swan have a distinctive cry, sweeter and sadder than that of the far more numerous Canada Geese.
A shaft of light interrupted the clouds and illuminated them. Sun blazed through wing, and, for an instant I was elsewhere. It was as if the German culture of the valley had, through sympathy, brought the old stories of the old world to life. I remembered swan legends, some concerning enchanted humans. In others, the really old Teutonic ones, these white birds were souls, winging their way to a Summer Land rebirth.
I wouldn’t want to miss my annual chance to see them.