By Janice R. Edwards
Spring is coming, but as I write this at the end of February, Old Man Winter still has some tricks up his sleeve.
He is sending some reminders south of the ice and snow from places like Old Crow, Yukon, Canada. But more and more of his “special deliveries” of winter weather are falling short of making it this far south.
I’m glad he did not have the energy he had last winter when he sent a February surprise, and we almost froze. I haven’t put away my long pants and favorite sweatshirt yet, but the time is coming.
I like to think that if Leon Hale was still alive, he’d be using this time to go south to meet the spring. But riding into town with Roy recently, I couldn’t help but take a second look at the oak trees along the roadside.
It was a mild day with a soft, gray sky from low-hanging clouds. With the sun behind the leafless trees, I could see a pale green haze – almost like a halo – tipping the extremities of the trees. The leaves are not yet buds, but they are swelling. One day soon, we’ll all look up to the trees’ spring crown of glorious green leaves.
I haven’t seen much migration of either fish or birds yet, but I have noticed the Gulf Coast Bird Observatory is hosting bird-banding events, which means the birds are moving again.
This year, the birds, who look for the river mouths to show their way to nesting and feeding spots, will have an open mouth to the San Bernard River again. I hope we will see more song birds and Hummingbirds this year.
The Snow Geese were late and fewer in number this year, but I hope I can see them on their way north to say, “Good-bye, see you next year.”
There are other signs that spring is upon us - not so pleasant things, like cedar and pine pollen brought south with the Old Man’s last winter gasps. And more pleasant things, like an orange glow of a few Indian paintbrushes starting to show along the roadside with Mother Nature’s first wielding of her paint brushes.
I also saw a majestic Bald Eagle catching its dinner out of the San Bernard. I hope that means it is fishing for its partner also, who may be sitting on their nest somewhere. That’s a sure sign of spring.
As spring “greens” and warms, Saltwater rattlers and other poisonous and non-poisonous snakes will be waking up from their winter slumber. They will be in a bad mood – hungry, cold and looking for a home. Watch where you put your feet – both in the woods and at your doorstep. If you don’t bother them, they usually will leave you alone; just don’t step on one. Oh, and keep a bottle of Children’s liquid Benadryl for your dogs handy should they get too nosey and are bitten.
Feral hogs will begin moving and looking for food sources. They are voracious eaters, and the females either will be pregnant or will have given birth to little babies needing to be fed. They are looking for dens and food, which might include roots of plants growing in our yards.
Be careful driving the roads at night, or at dusk and dawn. Your vehicle will never be the same if you “meet them” unexpectedly.
Soon now, maybe we will have oysters coming up river and settling and growing again now that the river mouth is bringing us some needed saltwater. Maybe the Speckled Trout will again swim up to the back bays and the shallows to look for spots for their nurseries and check out the river as their night-time delicatessen while enjoying fishermen’s “on-line” rowdy entertainment.
This year, we’re attracting more of a different kind of visitor at River’s End. People are looking for the magic this river has to offer. Recreational vehicles are popping up like toadstools after a summer rain. Old houses are being fixed up. We have B&B’s helping share the beauty. Small houses are being expanded.
Well, you’ll have to excuse me, as we must start making our own preparations for spring. We’ll be using our camera to record spring’s beauty, while getting out the power washer to clean the deck and preparing the soil to plant loofah seeds.
I can’t wait for the mild nights and the smack of a speckled trout scarfing down some bait.
As spring arrives, we welcome it.
(Write Jan in care of The Bulletin. Email: email@example.com. Snail mail: The Bulletin, PO Box 2426, Angleton TX, 77516.)