Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Spring Chorus at the Farm

Actually today it's back to feeling like late winter again (32 degrees, wind making it seem much colder, ice on the car - thankfully we escaped the snow and serious ice that hammered other parts of Michigan), and it is supposed to get no higher than ~32 degrees for the next week or so.

Sigh............this is typical early spring and the month of March in Michigan. Lots of gray skies, mud, ice, standing water, with maybe a tease of a day or two here and there of sun and warmth, not summer-like warmth, but high enough to no longer feel the need to wear gloves outside, wool socks and heavy boots, and/or a scarf inside!

When those teasing warmer days occur, as they did during a few days last week, the early spring frogs wake up and begin their mating calls with vigorous (and perhaps even passionate!) enthusiasm in the wet areas on our farm. First came the spring peepers (listen to their call here) beginning at the end of last week and then Monday I heard the chorus frogs (listen to their call here).

(Photo: Spring Peeper - photo from The University of Michigan)
(Photo: Chorus frog - photo from The University of Michigan)
The home we had in Illinois before moving to Ann Arbor 23+ years ago backed up to what our family called "the bog". It was a low area that was always very wet in the spring. I eagerly looked forward to that first warm night in March when my husband and I would throw open our bedroom window and sleep (or not) to the beautiful (and, yes, almost-deafening!) songs of a gazillion spring peepers.

Hearing this annual event was music to my ears then and continues to be today.  After moving to Ann Arbor, I have deeply missed having that ritual each March right out my back door so-to-speak, an event to look forward to, knowing I could just throw open my bedroom windows to be a part of that first warm night, and be as close as I could be to those frogs without being a muskrat in the pond (an image I have grown to love after first reading A Sand County Almanac by Aldo Leopold at least 35 years ago).

When we first saw this farm property two years ago now, it was probably about this time in March. The frogs were singing loudly everywhere as we walked the property. We knew the house was going to be a lot of work ( we underestimated the time it would take to do all the work!), and we knew we could bring the former farm land (fallow for at least 25 years) back to life (we expect to be doing that for years and years). However, to be honest, after looking at and rejecting multiple other pieces of property, I think it was the frog chorus that went right to my heart and I was 'sold' on this property (in spite of the condition of the house, lack of outbuildings, etc, etc).

Each cancer survivor counts a 'year' of survivorship differently. For some it is the day of a biopsy, the day of hearing the diagnosis, the day of surgery, the day that treatment ended, you get the idea. I actually have several ways I count and celebrate another year of cancer survivorship, and perhaps that is because i have multiple diagnoses. I do count Thanksgiving Day as one of my annual celebratory 'rites of passage' but I also count several signs of spring as necessary to my sense of contentedness, completeness, and well-being.

Spring is the season of renewal and what better way to honor and celebrate another year of surviving the dark days of winter and also those dark days of cancer than some sign of spring that is meaningful. I am at peace with my little corner of the universe, with my frogs finding their mates and producing zillions of wiggling tadpoles (enough to make our vernal ponds look like moving water later in spring!)

In addition, I have finally moved ALL of my cookbooks to the farm, they are on their shelves in the kitchen (back to boards and bricks, just like grad school days), and I cannot wait to move our kitchen to the farm and start cooking again. This is the very first time I have ever had all my cookbooks in one place, in full view (not stuffed here and there, wherever I could find room), and somewhat organized. I'll take a photo to post up later the next time I remember to take my camera to the farm.

Yes, spring is finally on its way here in the upper Midwest, in spite of this return to winter interlude, and I look forward to the second round of the spring frog chorus when the weather warms up again. Another year of cancer survivorship has begun!

"Cultivate your life - you are what you grow - inch by inch, row by row"

Diana Dyer, MS, RD


Kateri said...

I haven't hear a spring peeper yet this spring, last year they were deafening. That is the way it was every single spring where I grew up. :) They were something I missed very much when the ten years I lived in Ann Abor. I even wondered if maybe they didn't live in Michigan. I'm glad we both got properties where the spring peepers sing!

Diana Dyer said...

Kateri - yes, I am also glad we both have finally found property where the peepers can keep us up at night! Surprisingly, even though I didn't hear any singing/peeping yesterday when I put up this post, I could hear the them all singing today. So maybe once that mating urge is aroused, there is no putting that genie back in the bottle! :-) Let me know when yours wake up!

Maggie said...

I cant wait to see the photo of all your cookbooks! I'm betting on two more weeks before we hear peepers. When we moved I started a journal to record all the phenology signs. Yesterday we had the first red-winged blackbirds at our feeders and it was only one day off from last year. So even though the temperatures have dropped and there is a fresh blanket of snow, signs of spring are still out there.

Diana Dyer said...

I love the word phenology. a word I only learned within the last couple of years. I actually have a beautiful journal given to me as a gift that I never used. As I reviewed all the books in my office before packing them up, I decided to save this journal and use it in just the way you are doing, once we actually get fully moved out to the farm. Thus, the sooner the better for me! I'm ready!

Kateri said...

I had a really long work day and didn't get home until 10 pm (and temps had dropped to the low 20's) so I don't know if frogs sang on my property today, but I did hear them when I was out in Concord today. I'm looking forward to the pictures of your cook books, too. I'm sure you will love having a kitchen with enough space!

Uncharted Journey said...

Thanks, Diana, for sharing your feelings on the link between spring and cancer survivorship. Last year I was not in very good shape for enjoying spring and digging my hands in the dirt - but this year I can rejoice and dig in! Every day a gift.

Diana Dyer said...

I am so glad to hear you will be rejoicing this spring, with your hands in the dirt and a soaring spirit. May they both bring you healing, hope, and health!