TOP O' THE MORN: Spring themes simply sing

Spring on Whidbey Island comes in unexpected ways.

It gently moves in the marshes and roadside ditches as the 1,000-voice frog choir choruses its welcome to the yellow spathes of swamp cabbages.

Spring moves through bare and leafless trees in the form of a small, pale blossom; it pokes through sod in a purple crocus cup; it moves from rain to bright patches of sun, and sparkles on the water on the bay.

Spring is a bonus given for perseverance through the dark days of fall and winter. But one must be careful in these lightening hours. It’s easy to become besotted with a few days of warmth and gentle breezes. For weeds know our spring feverishness. These young plants are tender now, but let them gain root-hold and they will overgrow gardens, yards, gutters and hanging baskets.

Our Resident Robin is alive and well, testing his vocal chords against the spring sky. Invariably, each year an interloper dons his best fighting gear and challenges our RR.

There they stood this morning on the poplar limb, heads down, feathers ruffling in the breeze, eyeing each other, waiting for the first thrust. Residet Robin is confident. He has vanquished many an upstart who would move in on his territory. RR has no thought of moving on.

Lady Robin is used to this. She sits quietly, her wings wrapped against the Spring. She hopes this madness will soon be over and life will take on some continuity of nest-building, hatching and feeding. There is work to be done and there these two cock-robins are, eyeing each other, muttering maledictions.

The sun warms the poplars where catkins are pushing out. Lady Robin measures the time in which the catkins will bloom and fall, and pale green leaves appear. Doesn’t give a bird much time for routs or romance when the business of housebuilding is so imminent.

So many redbreasted hatchlings have called this area home. The trees are numerous. The forsythia over the back fence is perfect and the apple trees have strong branches.

A sudden flurry of feathers, a quick dive-bombing and a retreat. Resident Robin emerges victorious. His eyes brighten and he begins to sing. He has won his first spring duel but there will be others.

Spring is a heady time of year. The quince is flowering and forsythia buds swelling. The big plum tree is a shower of white waiting for spring showers of snow or rain to mingle with its tissue thin petals.

There is a lot of work to be done before the carrots, beets and onions can be planted. Four new apple trees weathered their first year and the asparagus is sprouting.

Soon will come the sound of lawnmowers heard across the land. One must be looking forward at this time of year to assure a well-ordered mind.

From now on, there will be no bad days. Just a different degree of good days, according to one optimist friend who has the happy facility of being able to lift one’s spirits to the realization that perhaps he is right.

On a scale of 1 to 10, some days are a -4 but that’s better than -40.

Dorothy Neil has been writing and recording Whidbey Island history for more than 50 years. Her books, including “The Dutch Book” and “By Canoe and Sailing Ship They Came,” chronicle local life and times. This column comes from Neil’s voluminous archies.

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