By Dale Bowman
Even before we set out, Lady wanted to get out the pair of gray squirrels messing around on our front porch below the bird feeders.
It is frolicking season.
And dare we say? Spring is coming.
Just a lively morning, and I needed one. Almost as much as I needed to be able to stretch out a full ramble with the family mutt.
Today is the first day I truly felt that way. Even with the gray skies. But the temperature, hanging around 20 degrees felt balmy after three days that hit below 0.
Two more gray squirrels chased each other by the neighbor's oak.
It is mating season and thoughts of gray squirrels are on the joys or necessity of reproduction. Isn't it for us all in some way or another?
According to the Univerity of Illinois Extension Service, squirrels have at least two mating seasons, the first in January and February.
A blue jay squawked down the block one street north. Songbirds sang. Starlings made their various noises.
Hadn't had a morning that alive in weeks.
Four more squirrels frolicked around the feeders across from the bus barn.
As we crossed the side rail separating the town from the wildness of the town pond, a pair of mourning doves whistled off by the old clay pits.
Ah, the scene on the clay pits (at the top) remained very much that of winter, but the birds and mammals knew otherwise.
Lady was so happy for a full ramble that she spun in circles almost the whole ramble.
I needed a ramble too after being trapped by the bitter cold for three days and by driving back and forth to Springfield (Hello, Abe Lincoln) twice in four days.
Not one, but two, woodpeckers hammered away around the south pit. I could not find either one.
Back in town, the chef/cook was nearly finished loading his food truck for migrant and nursery workers. The sides were up and I peered in at all the goodness.
The bank thermometer read 20 degrees. After the past week, 20 felt balmy.
Five more doves scattered and flitted around the wires down the alley by the yard with the feeders across from the bus barn. A lone squirrel loped off in the yard.
A cardinal, almost close enough to touch, sat on the decorative fruit trees a block from home.
Dozens of sparrows and finches scattered as we came up the front steps.
I think I made it through another winter. (Hello, Miss Hope.)