Sunshine on my shoulders makes me happy
Sunshine in my eyes can make me cry
Sunshine on the water looks so lovely
Sunshine almost always makes me high

                                                ~ Sunshine, John Denver

We sat on the patio in the sun, soaking up the warmth after a day or two of rain. It felt nice to be outside in the fresh air after the long winter indoors.

This last year has been tough on us all. The pandemic disrupted our everyday routines, and curtailed gathering with friends and family. We made do with phone calls, exchanging messages, emails or letters and the occasional Zoom session, but it was still limited and restrained. Sure, we had a few socially-distanced take-out meals together outside, but even our new outdoor heater couldn’t make it seem normal. Making matters worse, Merrilyn and I each lost a big brother and a couple of friends. We’re at that age where people, our peers, and hence part of our communities, begin to pass on. Other friends had major life crises or illnesses and it was frustrating that we couldn’t be there to help them.

Lately, the snowstorms have changed to scattered flurries, then rain, which we desperately need after the dry winter. Various shrubs and trees are beginning to leaf out, and the crabapple, pear and Spirea are blooming like crazy. Yesterday, we heard a hummer so I filled and placed the feeders. It’s still early enough that the press of spring chores — weeding, mowing, turning the garden, starting seeds and a whole list of other things put away since last fall — is not too critical and can wait a bit.

Our dog and two cats reflect our restlessness, and add their own impatience to go in and out (and in and out … ) to our other disruptions. It seems that they, too, have become bored and grumpy, over the last year. While we basked in the sun, cat Betty and dog Rosie napped on the warm wood of the back stoop, and cat Janie prowled the flower beds tasting the new spring smells.

The squirrels play tag all day, chasing each other with an enthusiasm that I haven’t felt all winter. The raccoons are coming out of their winter homes again. Rosie treed one just off our patio last night, and we had a hard time getting her settled down enough to go to bed. I think that the rabbits we have seen occasionally through the winter have procreated and the baby bunnies may be another cause of Rosie’s restlessness.

Or, it could just be Spring.

While on the patio, a faint whooping caught our attention and we sought the source. We finally spied a swirl of white flashes quite high above us against the blue sky. It resolved into a large flock of cranes, probably sand hills, caught in an updraft almost beyond sight. Carried on the breeze and distance, their cries reached us intermittently and we watched them until our necks could stand no more craning (LOL).

This morning I glimpsed another smaller flock of a half dozen cranes not as high, just hovering without moving their wings. I could distinguish the pale bodies and dark bands under their wings. They appeared to be in no great hurry to move on north. Like us, they were probably just enjoying the nice weather here.

Spring symbolizes rebirth, and after the last year, I feel a great need for things to be renewed. The isolation, constraints, sorrow and anxiety have worn me down. Spring, however, has come at last and nature is beginning to supersede our trials, showing us that things can get better, and we can look forward to things normalizing, if not even improving.

In Spring, Nature shows us that there is still magic in the world.

If I had a tale that I could tell you
I’d tell a tale sure to make you smile
If I had a wish that I could wish for you
I’d make a wish for sunshine all the while

                                                ~ Sunshine (again), John Denver

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