To Everything There is a Season
Transitions are always times of uncertainty. A big move. A new job. Starting at a new school. So it can be with the changes of the seasons. As winter ends and spring begins, we muddle through a time of year when the weather can be warm and bright one day and the next day see rain, snow, or sleet. This variation from warm spring days to frigid, arctic conditions when fronts push south convinces many Adirondackers to head out of town during this time of year.
Mud Season Activities
As a result, mud season, as it is appropriately called, often gets a bad rap in the North Country. Skiing is icy or slushy, snowshoes are not generally needed unless you want to climb to elevation, and hiking features swampy trails with pools of cold water to greet your toes. Wren tracks mud everywhere and it can truly be a battle to keep the house and car somewhat clean as a result. Earth week or not, I do generally try to keep earth from getting everywhere – with varying degrees of success. But while that may be true of this changeable time of year, mud season does begin an exciting transition in the North Country as the region comes to life.
After all, there are few times of year when you can go for a spring ski one day and take a sunny, warm hike the next. You can climb a mountain on feet of snow and you can also ply the waters of the areas lakes which are opening more and more with each passing day. This past week had done an amazing work on opening up our waters this year. On one day last weekend I went walking with Wren – twice – and then went cross country skiing in shorts. It was great. There isn’t another time of year when I can do that. As such, mud season is a time of many possibilities – even if the conditions aren’t always what some folks consider optimal. And I’ll take the warming air and the long days which allow more time to do things outdoors and more time to explore.
And so surviving – or rather thriving – during mud season often requires a certain flexibility to your activities and schedule. I skied as long as I could this year (as I do every year), but on rainy days or cold days that caused icy conditions, I chose to do something else. And now that the cross country skiing is finished, I’m focusing more on birding.
The Anticipation for the Arrival of Summer
After all, mud season also marks the beginning of spring migration and the arrival of a variety of songbirds which add their voices to the once silent Adirondack air. As such it is a fun time of year for birders who expectantly wait for the newest species to arrive. This is what compels me outside everyday – regardless of the weather conditions – and I’ve been waking each morning of late to the song of Dark-eyed Juncos in my yard.
It is this sense of expectation that makes mud season so special. It marks the beginning of spring and the changes which are harbingers of the Adirondack summer. It is days that are longer and warmer than they have been for months and a feeling that everything is waiting to explode to life.
And so mud season is a time of anticipation. It is a time when a world that has been silent for much of the winter is once again finding its voice. And it isn’t just heard in the singing birds. It is heard in the dripping water, the rushing streams, the warm spring wind, and my first spring chorus of wood frogs which I heard last night. These sounds make mud season a special time to be explored and experienced – not one that should be avoided. And they declare that the long, warm days of summer are coming and coming quickly.