When is Spring?

Though spring officially starts in the northern hemisphere around March 20 each year, the feeling of spring begins with different signs for different people and different areas. In the western part of New York state, where I lived as a child, the first American Robin to appear meant spring. For many, the celebration of Easter or Passover marks the first feeling of spring. For me, a small Night jar bird, the Chuck-wills-widow, announces spring.

At some point each March I open the back porch door as I do every morning around 6 a.m. and I hear Chip-wido-Wido for the first time that year. With a life span of around twelve years, after all this time I don’t hear the same bird, but one of the family always calls from the trees just beyond the fence. I rarely see it, and the few times I did only in silhouette sitting on the fence bill open and calling, or as a dark lump flying away. I never realized how ingrained the feeling became until several years ago. I opened the door, heard the call, and announced “It’s spring now” to some house guests. It was normal to me, the house guests required coffee and an explanation.

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