So the phoebes are back. Phoebes generally come back to the same area, and often build a nest in the same site as previous years. They are flycatchers, insect eaters, so they migrate to warmer climes where insects can survive for the winter. But now they have come back to New England. I heard one in my yard the other day, and heard and saw one at work today. Little by little we get closer to summer, though the weather today would fool anyone - cool, almost cold, and showery with only a couple of glimpses of sunshine. It's 43ºF now, and I don't think it was much warmer earlier. But I'm starting to see violet leaves poking up out of the soil.
Spring reminds me of Frances Hodgson Burnett's The Secret Garden, which I loved as a child, and enjoyed reading to my children. The images of the coming spring are still strong in my mind: "The grass is greener and things are sticking up everywhere and things are uncurling and green buds of leaves are showing." And a little later on, "Things are crowding up out of the earth... [a]nd there are flowers uncurling and buds on everything and the green veil has covered nearly all the gray and the birds are in such a hurry about their nests for fear they may be too late that some of them are even fighting for places in the secret garden. And the rose-bushes look as wick as wick can be, and there are primroses in the lanes and woods, and the seeds we planted are up..." For me, each spring is as exciting as Mary's first spring in that English walled garden.
And Mr. and Mrs. Mallard are back again this evening.