February 2018 will soon fade from present to past. It's dark, dreary days will open to March, a month during which we feel the bite of winter's chill, warmed by the sun's kiss on a lengthening day. Snow still drapes itself on branches, blankets itself across the ground, but the promise of spring nudges its way into our consciousness.
We begin to ponder plans for March break. The black, white and grey images of winter that fill our minds, give way to notions of soft pastels, of blooming buds and painted eggs. Occasional days of warmth, foreshadowing what lies ahead, will inspire the opening of windows and doors, if only for a moment or two, chasing away the stale air of a house that's been shut away from fresh air for months.
March makes one think of revival and rejuvenation. There is snow, always snow, but rains come more frequently to wash it away, freshen the earth and brighten the landscape. And it won't be long before snowdrops and crocuses will push their heads through leftover clumps of flakes.
There will also be celebration. With a nod to the Emerald Isle, we enjoy in March an occasion full of spring's favourite colour. St. Patrick's Day gives all an opportunity get their Irish on as, we find ourselves amidst images of shamrocks, pots of gold and leprechauns. Even the beer is green on this day of "drowning the shamrock".
At the end of the month this year will be Easter. On the Christian calendar it marks the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ. For youngsters it means the Easter bunny, chocolates and pretty pastel eggs, decorated and hidden for hunting.
The aforementioned are all welcome harbingers that warmer days are ahead of us that spring is nigh. But there is one more sign that warms my soul more than any. Walking to work on a recent morning, I became suddenly aware that the typical winter silence was not settled around me. Instead, there was the music of a few of our feathered friends. Just a chirrup from one corner then another, the singers tucked away in the bare branches of towering maples, but it was the sound of spring.
The next day, a cardinal serenaded my progress and it was with much pleasure that I stood and listened to him. The melodic call put a smile on my face and lifted any worry from my shoulders. As Carly Simon, herself a bit of a songbird, has said "The sound of birds stops the noise in my mind.
In celebration of these lovely creatures, as we head towards the final weeks before spring, we highlight here wonderful bird photos from iPHOTOS.com