Winter certainly seems behind us

Teasingly at lunch on Monday, my wife asked, “Why didn’t you rake the yard on the weekend?”
She had been in Toronto for several days, where she experienced cold, rainy weather.
We may have had cloudy weather for those days, but the mercury in the thermometer kept rising well above zero—and staying that way overnight.
It was all the excuse I needed to walk around the outside of the house in shirt sleeves and take down all the lights from the shrubs that were put up last October.
It might be the earliest I have done this clean-up job. The extension cords were rolled up and stored away for their seven-month hiatus.
Snow still remains in the yard, on the north side of the house sheltered from the direct rays of the sun.
But even that snow is now less than eight cm deep and with the continuing heat of this week, much of that, too, will disappear before the thermometer drops back to normal temperatures.
On Saturday night, walking through the neighbourhood, the smells of meat grilling on barbecues could be found. The barbecue season is here again.
March is catching us off guard. The warmth and sun cancelled a staff sleigh ride party last weekend, and the melting snow left the ice covered in inches of water.
Today that has disappeared, and air holes have sprouted like weeds over the lake.
The quick run-off has made it mushy around the shores, and getting on and off the ice with a vehicle has its challenges.
Down the Rainy River between Stratton and Pinewood, the annual migration of die-hard fishermen have found their way upstream to catch early walleyes. Normally that ritual takes place closer to the end of March.
Ice-out at Rainy River normally occurs the first week of April.
I probably should have spent a little more time in the yard. The branches that broke from the wind and freezing rain back in January are strewn about the yard and need to be picked up.
The day lilies seem to have been tricked into pushing their shoots through the thawing soil.
Driving to the airport Sunday evening, the unmistakable odour of that single white-striped critter wafted along McIrvine Road. I didn’t see the animal, but there was no doubt it had come out of hibernation.
Meanwhile, the grey squirrels that populate the neighbourhood were back climbing the trees and running along the power lines.
They appear to have survived the winter in good shape. Their coats are shiny, and I suspect we’ll soon see a bumper crop of young squirrels that will learn the perils of urban living.
We may have a freezing spell again, but winter now seems behind us.

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