It’s only been four weeks since Punxsutawney Phil popped out of his burrow on Gobbler’s Knob at 7:28 a.m. eastern standard time and didn’t see his shadow. According to legend, believers could do a happy dance because an early spring was just around the corner. For anyone living in Kansas, that ground hog- inspired jig turned into a long waltz with a snow shovel.
Despite passing days and ample sunshine, many still have three to four foot reminders of the storm that blanketed our landscape and discredited Phil’s prognostication. On Saturday, I noticed clusters of big blue stem peeping through acres of melting snow, but seen from a distance, the prairies still sport a white topcoat. Old Man winter is hanging on tenaciously despite warm weather’s best efforts to come calling.
Considering that Phil has only a 39% success rate, perhaps those optimistic high-steppers should have waited to celebrate. But, after this recent sunny weekend, maybe he was right and spring is in the air as well as in our steps. If robins have anything to say about it, they’d tell us the rodent was right on and that white frosting on the prairie will soon turn to mud or running streams.
Even though most yards are still snow-covered, I saw at least a dozen red-breasted harbingers of warm weather hopping over a patchwork of grass and snow during my walk to church. I heard more trilling from neighborhood trees and shrubs. Compared to the silent birds I saw fluffed and huddled during the height of the blizzard, these feathered visitors were an invigorated glee club celebrating the melt.
This robin invasion is a good sign that Phil is right and winter is over. Daffodil, crocus, and hyacinth blooms will soon punctuate our flower beds. The runoff from this late snow should produce lovely bouquets that some of us had given up hope of enjoying.
Not only did I relish watching robins scrounge for early worms as I ambled by, tiny streams trickled where the curbs and pavement met. Watching the water flow on both sides of the road reminded me of narrow creeks I’ve hopped over on outdoor jaunts. I wondered if a listening device monitoring these rivulets would make them sound like rushing torrents.
We can hope this water is meandering its way into local creeks and eventually rivers. It would be wonderful if the herons that nest nearby had to wade in deep water for their dinner once they return from South America. Won’t they be surprised to serve up dinner without having to fly to a distant pool.
Whatever water does make it into ponds and streams will fuel a frog chorus as temperatures rise and darkness falls. A side benefit of this current sogginess is we can soon sit outside evenings and listen to the clinking ball-bearing sounds of chorus frogs or the bristly leg rubbing imitation that cricket frogs produce or the funny southern drawl of a Woodhouse toad. A little spring moisture gets more than robins singing.
Punxsutawney Phil may have gotten our hopes up that winter was over when he didn’t see his shadow. However, the moisture from this late storm that changed many a jolly jig into a snow shovel promenade provided optimism for a greener, noisier spring than western Kansans have enjoyed for some time.