For the Birds Radio Program: Searching for Spring

Original Air Date: April 7, 1997

Where the heck IS spring Not quite in Duluth yet. 3:02

Audio missing


By the opening of April, winter seems to be a never-ending ordeal in the Northland. This Easter, I was desperate to find some evidence that spring was really on its way. It was cold and snowing in Duluth, so I headed south of the border, to Port Wing, Wisconsin, in search of spring.

My mother-in-law’s feeder was filled with chickadees, goldfinches, Purple Finches, nuthatches, woodpeckers, and even a Brown Creeper. But I needed more than that, so I went out walking. Problem was, it was snowing so hard that my glasses were covered with drops and fogged up, and the windo was so powerful that I had to keep my head down. If there were any birds out in that, I would only have been able to see them if they were sitting on the road right in front of my feet.

I walked north on Kinney Valley Road to Highway 13, and then east on 13 to Twin Falls Town Park, headed directly into the northeast wind the whole way. But the wind disappeared like magic when I went into the park, which is sheltered by thick trees. I wiped my eyeglasses off on my shirt and suddenly felt like spring might be here in the park.

I started walking on the snow crust along the park path. But the snow was way deeper than I realized, and every three or four steps, I broke through past my knees. Betsy, my little springer, stayed on top much more easily than I did, but every now and then she tripped and fell into one of the holes I had made when breaking through. I progressed slowly but surely for maybe a hundred yards, and then suddenly dropped through a deep drift, trapped all the way to my seat. I had to pull myself out with my cheerful little dog licking my face and breaking the snow I was trying to pull on. Then one of my boots fell off. My sock got soaked as I moved the foot around feeling for the boot, which was now stuffed with snow. This was too discouraging for words, so when I finally dug my way out, I headed back dropping through deep snow the whole way out of the park.

The snowfall was starting to die down, but the wind was picking up speed when I reached Highway 13 again. Walking back, I was at least walking with the wind, so I could keep my head up. A shrike landed in a distant tree, but that was the only bird I saw on the whole walk. There were still plenty of birds at my mother-in-law’s feeder, but I never did find spring that day. According to the internet, birds are returning in huge numbers south of here. Spring may be alive and well somewhere, but I won’t believe it till I see it.