This post by Gayle M. Irwin
Many signs of spring greeted me while visiting my parents in Montana last weekend, including lilacs blooming in neighborhoods and the weeping birch in my parents’ front yard displaying fresh, green palmate leaves. Outside of town yellow balsam root and purple lupine flaunted their wild regalia, emerald meadows carpeted hillsides under still snowy mountain peaks, and bank-filled rivers rushed across fields and forests from snowmelt.
The season’s majesty laced with bird life. Turkeys scratched in sheep-filled pastures. Sandhill crane parents with their young sought bugs for breakfast in farmers’ fields. Robins hunted worms on lawns and harrier hawks soared in the sky, seeking mice and rabbits for lunch. Songbirds of all sorts fed at feeders and sang from hedgerows while ring-necked pheasants searched for grain and other tasty tidbits along roadsides. The music of the nature, from flowing fountains to bird song, echoed across Wyoming and Montana, choruses of the landscape cascading with new-season abundance.
I walked my friends’ ranch outside of Kaycee, staying one night along my journey north. A mother owl’s hoot took me to a tree where I’d observed her last month as she sat on a nest. This time, three owlets stared at me, peering with curiosity and alertness with large amber eyes. The fledglings, which were likely just tiny nestlings unable to hop out of the tree’s crevice in April, now perched on the cottonwood’s branches. Downiness still covered parts of their bodies, but wing bars were also apparent, indicating flying lessons on the nearby horizon. Mother’s vigilant hoots reverberated from a nearby tree as she eyed me suspiciously and cautioned her youngsters.
The following day in Montana, bird calls continued as I observed crane parents with two chicks in a field about 20 miles from my parents’ home. The adults’ warning call kept the two youngsters close to them; all four trotted across the field to find safer sanctuary from peering human eyes on the highway.
Songs of spring persisted through the weekend as I listened to and observed wrens, red finches, and robins in my parents’ yards as well as the nearby town park. Swallows also made appearances, much like actors returning from hiatus, staking out territory for the best bird house, while sparrows also tried to reserve seasonal housing. The warbling wrens and finches courted partners, serenading from sprigs of caragana hedges and nearby power lines.
I listened, watched, walked, and photographed, enjoying the splendor of the season. I reminisced with my mother about my growing up years and our little farm in Iowa as well as the years I had also lived in Montana. We talked of nature’s impact upon our spirits and our lives, of family heritage and history, of the joys of the past and present and of what likely lies ahead in the future. Dad and I continued planning our summer trip to Alaska, and mom and I shared walks through town and drives to the countryside. The splendor of nature entwined with relaxation and reflection, generating monumental moments of joy.
Just as nature sang its song of spring, so, too, did my heart.
Gayle M. Irwin is an award-winning Wyoming writer. She is the author of several inspirational pet stories for children and adults, and she freelances for newspapers and magazines. Gayle has contributed stories to six different Chicken Soup for the Soul books, including the 2014 release The Dog Did What? and last year’s release The Spirit of America, in which she writes about America’s national parks. She supports various pet rescue organizations with contributions from her book sales. Learn more about Gayle and her writing and speaking endeavors at www.gaylemirwin.com.