The Blackbird’s Call

Almost two weeks ago now, I heard the first trill of a red-winged blackbird perched high in the bare branched maple tree behind the house. “You best get to work, friend,” his call said. “Spring’s coming.”

And has it ever. Over just a couple of days, the snow cover melted from the farm in great rushing rivulets. Now that the ground is bare, I can see that the rye cover crop I sowed last fall survived the winter and soon will be putting on new growth to protect the soil during the April rains. I can see, too, that the trees are thinking about waking up, their buds swelling as the days grow longer and lighter. The migrating birds have already started arriving from their winter homes, and they fill the mornings with their song. Soon enough, the field will be draped in green, and the trees will burst with green, and the wide world will rejoice in its greenness. The sky will fill with clear light like bright water fills a glass, and I will fire up the old tractor and begin preparing the field for planting.

So it’s high time to blow the last of winter’s dust out of my mind and begin the work. It’s a good feeling, slipping back into the harness, pulling a load. Right now, most of the jobs are in the greenhouse, seeding the first of this season’s crops, but I also have a fair bit of errands to run, making sure all our supplies are laid in for the spring’s building and repairing and cleaning and tending. Falling into these rhythms of work is like the singing of a liturgy, of being borne forward upon deep waters of habit, of memory, of the ceaseless cycling of the seasons.