It’s mid-March and I’m sitting on a bench by my pond. I’m in shirt sleeves and remembering just last year at this time the pond was still ice covered and the valley was buried in snow. But this year the pond is open, the grass around it is greening up and the spring frogs are raising a raucous.
In the deep woods to the north I hear a ruffed grouse drumming—boom….boom….boom, then faster, boom, boom, boom. Like an old John Deere two-cylinder tractor.
As I watch, a muskrat with its head above water swims across the pond to the north. A few minutes later, another muskrat swims from the north side of the pond to the south. A case of “the grass is greener on the other side of the pond” it appears.
And then, from the east, a pair of sandhill cranes glide in. their wings set, their landing gear down. They land effortlessly, near where they’ve had a nest for many years on the west side of our pond. One of them lets loose with its throaty call that I place right up there with the call of the loon for its mystery and mystic—and its tie to prehistoric times.
A pair of wood duck wings in from the north, completing the spring scene—albeit about a month early. Is it time to start planting my garden? I’m tempted to plant some cool weather vegetables. A hard freeze and another snowstorm on the way? Maybe. But if the critters at the pond appear to believe it’s spring, maybe I should, too.
THE OLD TIMER SAYS: Pay attention to nature’s critters; they can tell you more about seasonal change than a calendar.
March 31-April 1. Morton Arboretum (Thornhill Education Center), Chicago area. Presentation on vegetable gardening, 3:00 to 4:00 p.m. on March 31. Sunday, April 1, 1:30-3:30 features a vegetable gardening workshop, with tips on planting and caring for a vegetable garden. Additionally, Ruth will discuss preparing vegetables and fruits for canning and freezing.
April 12, 7:00 p.m. McMillan Library, Wisconsin Rapids. Garden Wisdom
April 13, 11:00 a.m. Larry Meiller Show, Wisconsin Public Radio. Broadcasting at Fox Cities Book Festival. Garden Wisdom.
April 13, 2:00 p.m. Fox Cities Book Festival, Neenah Library. Garden Wisdom
April 14, 10 a.m.-12 a.m., AAUW, Lacrosse, WI (Garden Wisdom)
April 15, 12:30 p.m. -2:00 p.m. Barnes and Noble, LaCrosse (Campfires and Loon Calls, and my newest book, Garden Wisdom)
April 21, 1:00 p.m. Cedarburg Public Library. Garden Wisdom
April 22, 11:30 a.m. Fond du Lac Historical Society (795 Fond du Lac Ave). Dinner. Remembering our Rural Heritage.