Well, what do you know? It’s April once again. Through most of the winter I’d heard that this day would never come. Obviously, patience wins out over pessimism!
I’ve always been a big fan of every day of the year because, from the All Outdoors point of view there’s something interesting and fun to do year-round. There are certainly seasonal pursuits that folks either look forward to or prefer above all others, but I’m of the opinion that any day is a good day if you can get outside and enjoy it.
April can be a pesky month despite its lead position in the spring of things. There will likely be snow on the ground for some time, cool temperatures for most of the day and days that are just a tad too short for growing things except for those who are privy to a greenhouse. I’ve tried starting plants indoors in late winter but have found little difference between March planting inside and May planting outdoors. In fact, a few years ago I did both just to see what the difference might be and, surprisingly, found none. My marigolds, especially, seemed to grow at the same pace whether I planted them early or not, and the same went for the morning glories. The inside starters would sprout and then sit, sit, sit for weeks until conditions (outdoors) were right, and then they bloomed and blossomed almost apace with the outdoor batch. It’s been pretty much established that the last frost in our area can be expected in late May, sometimes even June 1, so now I just wait till the question is moot, plant when conditions are prime and enjoy the fruits of my delayed labor all summer and into fall. Sometime in late September everything seems to wither and turn brown. This is perfect timing because hunting season is close behind and I want all the gardening chores to be finished well before Oct. 1
For now, however, I spend most of my days in the preparation mode. I had plenty of time all winter to get my fishing gear in order, so between now and “actual” opening day I can putter around with plant pots, potting soil, fertilizers, mulch and all the other fun stuff one needs for a robust summer garden.
This week I’ve been awakened before sunrise daily by the loud yelps and lusty gobbles of hungry turkeys in the yard. One morning there were more than 40 birds wandering about in search of food, which meant I had to get out of bed at 5 a.m. and feed them just so I could hear the morning news on TV. The real culprits are the dozen or so turkeys that like to get on my front porch and gawk in the kitchen windows, doing their best to guilt me into feeding them first. They’ve become used to me coming out with a bucket of sunflower seeds and scattering it around the front dooryard. They’ll move away a discreet distance but come running back as soon as I close the storm door. I don’t know I have them trained or if it’s the other way around!
Thanks to recent rains and warmer temperatures most of the woods trails are open or at least broken up so there’s ample time for a woods walk each day. The critters are literally coming alive now, with sightings or tracks of skunks, raccoons, foxes, deer and even moose showing up in the muddy spots. Hawk and owl sightings have become routine now, and the turkeys are strutting and gobbling at full force of late with still a month to go before the spring hunting season opens.
My hiking trails have shown that the birds are also expanding their range as natural foods become more available to them. It seems that each day the snow cover diminishes just enough to expose new ground where the turkeys, blue jays and doves are able to scratch up enough to fill their crops. In some places I’ll stop and kick together a small pile of last fall’s acorn drop just to see how long it takes for the birds to find them, and it’s a rare event when my pile lasts more than a full day. The nuts are rather soft and pithy now but I suppose it’s better than nothing. Mice, squirrels and even gray foxes will eat them if there’s nothing better available.
My big find of the week was a set of moose tracks that crossed the road in a swampy area about a mile back in the woods. These big animals are not fond of being near roads and highways, at least not in spring, so I make it a point to take my hikes as far away from settled areas as I can. In fact, I’ll keep trekking until I do find one of the rarer tracks – moose, bobcat, otter and mink – just so I can add the find to my list of accomplishments that day. Any walk in the woods is good for the soul but when I find evidence of any unusual wanderers I like to think it’s because I was willing to go (literally) the extra mile in search of them.
I also know that my leisure time is about to run out. It’s been a great winter for woodland hiking but now the days are longer, the temperatures are warmer and, alas, the work load is increasing. Between fishing, gardening, yard work and spring cleaning I won’t have much time for more esoteric pursuits. I can easily talk myself out of any project that involves work, but in the interest of order and harmony I try to keep my hobbies and my priorities at a workable level. I often err on the side of sloth but where’s the harm in that?
As we all pace around the house waiting for spring and all the changes that it brings, be sure to take time to enjoy the slow and subtle evolution of seasons. Like winter, the sweetest days of spring are not going to last forever!