The first day of spring officially arrived on March 20. Meteorologists on every TV and radio station were heralding the opening of nature’s next season. All the professionals knew the actual date because the season is marked on the Northward equinox when the subsolar point appears to leave the Southern Hemisphere and cross the celestial equator, heading northward. Yeah – that is the definition of the March equinox according to Wikipedia. For those of us less technically-minded to read the position of the planet in relationship to the sun, we look for more everyday signs. I got my sign early on the first day of spring.
There was a knock at our front door. My husband opened the door to allow our expected visitor to enter. As she walked over the threshold, she was accompanied by unexpected male and female cardinals. Apparently, these soon-to-be parents were making a nest in a bush next to our front porch. Whatever causes the fowl to internally read the equinox metrics of seasonal shifts, they certainly knew how to respond to spring. Nests. Eggs. Baby birds. Startled by our friend passing their domain, they took flight – right through the door into our house.
Although the signs of spring were beginning to show outside our home, the interior of the house looked just the same as it had all winter. The temperature on that first day of spring still registered only in the min-30’s, so our furnace was working just as it had throughout the cold days of winter. The only internal equinox reading our heater gets is from the thermostat that is operated by the humans who are less spring conscious than the birds. The only Amsden plants being tended were sitting on shelfs inside the house; no outdoor gardening had begun. The inside of our home was only adorned with signs of winter– that is until the cardinals entered.
My husband, our guest, and I were anything but composed at the appearance of our winged visitors. Springtime had burst upon us in a totally unexpected – and uncontrollable – and uncontainable – and unpredictable manner. We began to open doors and try to force these two signs of spring to exit. They began to frantically seek any opening that looked like an exit. Unfortunately, they were unable to tell a clear window pane from an open door. (I’m not sure how that testifies to their internal reading on equinox metrics.)
Our anxiety, along with that of the birds, escalated. I tried using the word shoo; my husband attempted waving his arms; our friend endeavored to catch the female. Flapping wings, flying feathers, and chipping sounds all communicated that the wildlife could not understand the intentions of the human life. Finally, the male cardinal spied the open patio door and flew back into the spring. With only mother bird to redirect, our friend climbed a chair, trapped the cardinal in a corner of the window sill, picked up the bird in a gentle hold, and carried her to the door. Upon release, the female flew away.
Several days have passed since spring has sprung. The cardinals have returned to their nest-building outside our front door. We have cleaned up all the bird residue from their brief but memorable visit inside our home. And the signs of spring continue to testify all around our house – inside and out. Some of our plants that wintered inside have been moved outside. The maple tree is budding and the cherry tree is turning a soft pick hue. Each morning the robins sing to welcome the day and invite us to acknowledge that spring has arrived. The grey of winter is yielding to the colors of the new season.
All of creation seems to know that the subsolar point has left the Southern Hemisphere and crossed the celestial equator. How do they know that? Apparently, the birds can hear and interpret creation’s voice more easily than they can understand three anxious people. Nonetheless, the first day of spring has arrived and the signs of the new season abound. Ecclesiastes 3:1 promises us “to everything there is a season and a time to every purpose under heaven.”