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Patty Craig: A Slice of Time

Is it spring yet? The 2012 spring equinox came a little early: March 20 instead of March 21. Spring is a beautiful season, and many of us have been watching for its signs.

We expect certain events to lead into spring. A website called Journey North ( allows K-12 students to share their observations of wildlife migration and seasonal changes with other classmates across North America. Students are able to track the arrival of spring by looking for specific events. For example, the site tracks the arrival of spring through the following:
•    The appearance of the first earthworms: Even though earthworms only travel a few feet, earthworms practice a vertical migration each spring after the ground thaws.
•    The croaking and calling of frogs: This is an unmistakable sound of spring in the wetlands, on stream banks, and in woodlands across North America.
•    Ice-out: When the ice cover melts from lakes, rivers, ponds and oceans, it's a sign of spring. Ice-out is defined as the time a body of water is 90% free of ice.
•    Leaf-out: Watch one of these tree species: sugar maple, flowering dogwood, redbud, or quaking aspen. When the tree's leaves are the size of a quarter, they have reached the definition of "leaf-out."
•    First sap run: Watch for the first sap to run. Simply find a broken branch on a Maple tree and notice when the first sap flows.
•    Watch for these birds: Watch for sightings of the first loon as well as for the return of the oriole (from Central America), the red-winged blackbird, and the barn swallows (from South America).

I’ve never actually “tracked” signs of spring. Recently in our region, I have seen earthworms, green grasses, and blooming trees and flowers. I also watch for birds nesting. One of my favorite ladies – who is gone now – used to say that when she got through March, she felt like she was good for the rest of the year. I suspect many of us might agree with her thinking.

With blooming flowers and trees and rising temperatures, spring is here. As Virgil Kraft said, “Spring shows what God can do with a drab and dirty world.”


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