Although the calendar says spring's been here for weeks, nature's indicators have been somewhat ambivalent. Sundown has extended beyond dinner time, but, with the exception of a day or two, the air has remained as cold as it was when sunset coincided with the evening meal.
The sun has emerged resplendent during the past two days, but the nights are still chilly. When the wind picks up, you feel its sharp edge. Only the most thick-blooded among us have cast away their winter coats and thick socks.
Shades of gray and brown still linger on the landscape, although accents of green are visible in the fields and around some flower beds. Brown lawns are slowly turning verdant.
The tender tops of wheat have emerged from the neatly plowed fields where they have been busy transforming themselves from seeds to young plants with roots and sprouts. But the wet fields have kept the farmers from their fields. The loamy smell of freshly plowed ground is still a memory from last spring.
On trees, buds that have been dormant are swollen with energy and life, but the green leaves haven't emerged. The crocuses have burst forth in reckless splendor, only to wither and die a few days later. Their distant cousins, the daffodils, are beginning to make their appearance. Yellow forsythia are on the verge of bursting forth, but they, too, seem to be awaiting warmer weather. The blossoming of the tulips, azaleas and dogwoods are weeks away.
Robins have yet to arrive from their winter vacations, but the geese have turned north and are returning to their arctic breeding grounds. Box turtles are stirring from their burrows, though it is still too cold for them. They stretch their necks, blink their eyes and move with little energy.
Ponies, sporting their heavier winter coats, run through the fields with nervous energy. Young foals, with their spindly legs, bounce happily behind their mothers. Cows, slogging through the soaked fields, continue their daily pilgrimages to and from the milking barns.
We are all waiting patiently for spring. A week of bright sunshine and warm temperatures would be the clearest sign that the color and vibrancy of spring is here, since the calendar this year has proven less than reliable.