It’s the last day of March. If I were still living in Surrey, spring would be in full swing. The heather starts blooming in January, the crocuses are up in February, just to get you through the cold months. Then March is heralded by those happy and hopeful cherry blossoms and you know spring has begun. Daffodils and tulips. Sigh.
Of course, it’s not much warmer there right now. Not much. But the flowers, and the budding trees, and the green grass …
Spring is a much longer process here in the Northern Interior of British Columbia, but it’s on the way. It’s the end of March and the temperature now sits around 10 degrees Celsius (give or take a few degrees) most days. The sun is usually warm though, so it feels quite lovely and I have seen many a hard-core local without a jacket … I’m still wearing my winter parka, just without the extra layers. But I’m getting there.
So what does this early part of spring look like here in the Great White North?
Street cleaners … There was like an inch of hard-packed dirt covering the blacktop (the price we pay for driving on well sanded roads all winter.) Cars driving over it raise a substantial dust and Environment Canada actually issued an air quality warning because of it.
The creek is open (mostly) and running (somewhat) and it’s just so beautiful, especially at sunset.
And though it seems a tad bit early to me – pussy willows! If that’s not a happy sign of spring, I don’t know what is.
But now for the pièce de résistance in this symphony of seasonal transition … the swans!
They arrive this time each year in the hundreds, resting and regrouping on these open patches of the Nechako River, on their way to more northerly nesting grounds for the summer. Hundreds upon hundreds of them! A few pairs will remain in the area.
A few nights ago, I woke up around 3am and I stepped out on the deck to see if the northern lights were visible from here (sadly, they weren’t) but my ears were accosted by the most ghastly cacophony of honking noise. If you’ve ever heard a gaggle of geese flying overhead in the fall, honking loudly …. it’s not like that. A bevy of swans on a river in the middle of the night sounds more like a parking lot where all the car alarms have gone off simultaneously. Weirdly exhilarating (though, that’s easy to say from the auditory comfort of my home, 1/2 a mile away from ground zero!)
Above the treeline, I can see them from my house as they take off and land on the river, but yesterday I grabbed a camera and hustled down to Riverside Park. I didn’t even bother with the lookout tower, I just clambered down to the edge of the frozen water. I seriously regretted not bringing the wide angle lens so I could show you the scope of this phenomena. Maybe I’ll go back and try to get that shot yet.
With a wing span of about 3 metres, it’s like distant thunder when a group of them take flight together. You can hear the strength in those majestic wings. When you’re standing alone in the snow, watching them climbing and passing just above your head, it’s like a spiritual experience. The season is changing, it won’t last much longer. Come to the river, people – bring your children and your cameras and your binoculars and your sense of wonder!