Tag Archives: March

Spring Is When the Meadowlark Sings and It’s Singing


Signs of spring are everywhere on the farm. February is like an erratic March. So was January. We’ve had little real winter. Almost no snow. Our weather blows mild then cold then warm again, even balmy before the wind cuts through us once more. The geese are in hyper fussy mating/nesting mode. Don’t even try to talk to them now. Fuzzy pussy willows will soon burst into full-blown catkins. Possibly today. I’m calling it. Spring is here. I’ve got pea seed and early greens ready to plant.

“In the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt.”
― Margaret Atwood

Early spring in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia

“It is spring again. The earth is like a child that knows poems by heart.”
― Rainer Maria Rilke

Meadowlark, Eastern MeadowlarkBack to the meadowlark, my goal is to ever actually see one of these elusive birds again. Theoretically, this shouldn’t be such a challenge, with our meadows and all. Once or twice, I’ve glimpsed a yellow flash and spotted the bird perched on a fence post before it flew. Mostly, they hide in the grass and skim away to another spot before I get a good look, calling all the while from various positions in the meadow.

Several years ago, daughter Elise and I were determined to track down the evasive songster and take its picture, like photographing fairies. We tenaciously followed its calls, even climbed over the fence into the neighbor’s pasture and picked our way along the little creek that flows from our pond, but never caught up with that bird, or birds. There may have been more than one taunting us. Unless I catch another rare glimpse, I must content myself with their beautiful trills. Birds like this need tall grasses and untidy hedge rows for nesting. Bear that in mind in your own yard and garden. Keeping everything trim and cultivated robs our feathered friends of habitat. It’s also a good excuse for a less than perfectly kept landscape. A little wilderness here and there is a good thing.

The Shenandoah Valley of Virginia in spring“Is the spring coming?” he said. “What is it like?”…
“It is the sun shining on the rain and the rain falling on the sunshine…”
― Frances Hodgson Burnett, The Secret Garden

“She turned to the sunlight
And shook her yellow head,
And whispered to her neighbor:
“Winter is dead.”
― A.A. Milne, When We Were Very Young

***Images of spring in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia by my mom, Pat Churchman.

I bought the image of the meadowlark. Sigh.

March Came in Like A Lamb, is Still a Lamb…


“Everything is blooming most recklessly; if it were voices instead of colors, there would be an unbelievable shrieking into the heart of the night.”  ~Rainer Maria RilkeLetters of Rainer Maria Rilke

This normally precarious, wildly unsettled month is unbelievably mild.   Crocus, Daffodils, hyacinths,  early tulips…are in full flower with the promise of more blooms on the way.  A cloud of blossoms envelop the apricot tree, the pears up by the old red barn are snowy white, the peach is pink…apples will be in flower next.  Our spirits are so buoyed we planted two new heritage apple trees, one peach, and a sour cherry.  If the frost holds off, we’ll have loads of fruit this year to can, freeze, make into jam and fruit butters.  Most of last year’s crop froze.

I’m already hard at work clearing away the vegetable garden,  spreading compost, planting early vegetable seeds….   The flower beds need cleaning of all the overwintering weeds so I’m busying myself in them, pruning roses, and generally tidying everything.  I’ve ordered new herbs and perennials that attract butterflies and hummingbirds.  Some of the varieties I wanted are already sold out.  It’s only March 18th and I’m scrambling around like a demented bunny to keep up with the advancing season.  And the extended forecast shows more of the same unusually balmy weather.

All of a sudden it’s full-blown, bursting out all over, spring– like mid-late April, not March.  Will the weather hold, or will we be hit with a freeze?

I’m savoring all the beauty while wondering if it will suddenly be snatched away.  It’s mighty early to hope frost will pass us by, but last fall I found a solid brown woolly bear caterpillar with no black markings at all which means an unbelievably mild winter.  And thus it has been.  I’m putting my trust in the woolly bear as my prognosticator.   So much for Phil the Groundhog.

“Spring makes its own statement, so loud and clear that the gardener seems to be only one of the instruments, not the composer.”  ~Geoffrey B. Charlesworth

“Hoe while it is spring, and enjoy the best anticipations.  It is not much matter if things do not turn out well.”  ~Charles Dudley Warner

But I really hope they do.

*Image of our barn by me, and spring lane taken by my mother, Pat Churchman. The remainder of the images are royalty free.