Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Sandhills and red-wings

There are many signs of spring, and everyone has their favorite. Some look for the return of robins, but I consider them teases, because a few always remain in the winter and come out on a nice day in January as if to fool you. Some look for the first crocus or the blazing yellow forsythia, the noses of daffodils as they peak up, or the swelling of maple buds and the run of maple sap.

I listen for the sandhills and the red-wings. And today, as I was focused on some reading, the plaintive cry of the sandhills cut through my focus and pulled me with a snap into the skies above. I laid back and listened as flock after flock went over. To me there is no lovelier sound in spring.

Unless, of course, it's the chorus "conk-a-REE" of the red winged blackbirds. I first heard them this year a few weeks ago as I walked along the edge of a marsh. The trees and rushes were full of them, singing their distinctive song and flashing their distinctive red patches. A small bright flash of color in a gray and brown day, and a sound guaranteed to warm my heart.

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