After a long winter, the first acts of spring seem like miracleswarm breezes wafting through open windows, glimpses of green in the fields and woods, the days lengthening with welcome light.
Yet the journey from winter to spring in Northern New York is not smooth or straight. The first balmy days are followed by blustery intervals of high winds and bitter rains, even snow in some instances. One day is shirtsleeve weather; the next calls for foul-weather gear.
But we are moving unsteadily forward into light and warmth. The early signs of the season are subtle snowpiles diminish; green shoots suddenly appear in flower beds; the restless snow geese return. A few small birds sing the morning in, and frogs herald the evening.
Nature is moving, throbbing, changing and we along with it. Rivers and creeks run full and swift.
New ponds dot the fields, drawing sea gulls, ducks and geese. Hawks and eagles ride the winds. Unrelenting winter has tested the deer, but they find more food as the snow recedes and new life emerges.
The winter of 2013-14 was one for the record books with its abundant snowfall, blinding blizzards and numbing-cold temperatures. It reminded longtime residents of winters past and justified the description of this region as the Snow Belt.
It brought out the best in us, exemplified by the village of Adams taking in hundreds of travelers stranded by a severe snowstorm. It tested us: Snowplows once again kept the roads and parking lots clear for safe travel. And it delighted us, providing plenty of recreation for skiers and snowmobilers.
Those days are behind us; now is the time for other pursuits. We trade our snow shovels for rakes, our ice skates for golf clubs.
Maple syrup producers are completing their season.Farmers work on equipment in preparation for field work.
Gardeners ready their implements. Spring sports have begun.
All look forward to warm days, anticipating the sweetness of spring.
Of course, there is much to do. The wreckage left by winter must be raked, picked up and removed. Winter exacts a toll on homes and outbuildings as well.
But just being outside in the vibrant sun on a fine day is cause for rejoicing. And while cleaning up after the last season, we are planning and building for the next. There are seeds to sow and trees to plant. Spring projects await, and spring cleaning is good for the soul.
Our souls revive and awaken this time of year. We respond to the beauty and warmth of spring.
It renews us and instills hope in the human spirit. Songs and poems attest to this.
Religious traditions this time of year mirror such hopes and optimism. Jews celebrate Passover this week, remembering the liberation of the Israelites from slavery in Egypt as told in the book of Exodus. Christians reach the end of their Lenten journey of reflection and repentance as they remember the crucifixion of Jesus on Good Friday and celebrate his resurrection on Easter Sunday.
People of faith proclaim that the messages are clear: God loves his people, has a plan for them and wants them to have an abundant life.
Our faith rituals and natures promise this time of year buoy the spirit, sweep the cobwebs out, prepare the ground for planting, cleanse the soul. And to do all this, there is nothing like a north country spring.