On this first day of spring, with the temperature at 50 degrees, a soft southwest blows warm. With sunshine muted by a few cottony clouds, I start my morning hike. My goal is to inspect my white pines, about a five acre stand, to see how they wintered, and note other signs of the changing season.
The snow has all but disappeared, save for the tiniest pile left from plowing my driveway—only once did I plow this year, some kind of record.
As I leave the cabin, a robin, sitting in a maple tree in my frontyard greets me. It’s the first one I’ve seen at Roshara this year. I also see a chickadee, an old friend, who not like the robin, has stayed here all winter.
As I hike along the trail toward the stand of white pines, I hear in the distance the clatter of sandhill cranes calling. I saw one at the pond yesterday—which is still frozen—making an inspection tour for a nesting site. We’ve had a pair of sandhills nesting at the pond each spring for more than 30 years. And yesterday, I saw a flock of Canada geese, a small group of a dozen, flying low and honking loudly. Locals I’m sure, also inspecting my ponds, as we’ve had at least one pair of geese nesting at Roshara each year for some time.
The white pines, the original windbreak row planted in a dogleg around a five acre field during the dust storm days of the Great Depression (1930s), stand straight and tall, most of them. A few have succumbed to disease. But not many. These 80 year old white pines have provided the seeds for the five acres of pines that grow to their east, as the westerly winds have scattered the seeds. One of the pines, a big one that died last summer, has been attacked by pileated woodpeckers that have chiseled several six-inch long holes in the tree—searching for food and leaving behind a pile of fresh woodchips.
I sit on an old weathered bench at the edge of the pines, rest and listen to the soft sound of the wind playing with the pine needles. And I smell spring, not quite here as the calendar suggests, but not far away. Maybe just over the horizon?
THE OLD TIMER SAYS: Take time to look for spring—and maybe smell it, too.
Wednesday, March 25. Noon. Banquet speaker for Wisconsin Agriculturist Magazine, Farmer of the Year Award Program. Oshkosh. Farm Stories.
Tuesday, April 7, 6:30. Heritage Hill Museum, Green Bay. Garden Wisdom
Tuesday, April 14, 7:00 p.m. Friends of Eau Claire Library. Eau Claire, WI. Stories from the land.
Sunday, April 19, 7:00 p.m. Lebanon Historical Society, Lebanon Community center. Stories from the land.
Monday, April 20, Noon. Fox Valley Book Festival, UW-Fox Valley. Whispers and Shadows
Wednesday, April 22, 6:30 Patterson Memorial Library, Wild Rose. Mid-Wisconsin Launch of Whispers and Shadows. Fundraiser for the library.
Friday, April 24, 8:00 p.m. Ice Age Trail Org. Wis. Dells, Winter Green Resort. Old Farm
Tuesday, April 28, 6:30 Black River Falls Library, Sky Line Golf Course. Stories from the land
Purchase Jerry’s DVDS and his Books from the Patterson Memorial Library in Wild Rose, Wisconsin (a fund raiser for them):
The library now has available signed copies of Jerry’s DVDs, Emmy Winner, A Farm Winter with Jerry Apps and Jerry Apps A Farm Story.
Also available are several of Jerry’s signed books including The Quiet Season (on which the DVD A Farm Winter is based), as well as Rural Wit and Wisdom and Old Farm, (which are related to the DVD Jerry Apps a Farm Story). Also available is Jerry’s new novel, The Great Sand Fracas of Ames County.
Contact the library for prices and special package deals.
Patterson Memorial Library
500 Division Street