Ground hog? Spring peeper!

I was walking the Matrimony Creek Greenway in Eden yesterday, lost in thought. Not deep thought, just the kind that never bubbles to the surface unless you’re on the trail.

There was a break in the week-long rain, but it remained gray and cold. Certainly not weather to entertain thoughts of spring. But suddenly I was, thanks to one of the sweetest sounds nature conjures — the ascending croak of a spring peeper.

Forget the groundhog; Spring peepers are the season’s first responders. They typically emerge this time of year, typically in rainy weather, though typically during a spike in temperature (it was in the low 40s, as it seems to have been all winter). Yet probably not 30 feet away a vernal pool, a male peeper was loudly and enthusiastically kicking off the mating season. 

I stayed still; spring peepers have a security system that goes off when you get within 30 feet or so. Penetrate that bubble and the music stops. 

Their song made be think about the progression of spring. Next come the daffodils, though they get an asterisk because they are an ornamental plant, not a native wildflower. Homesteaders planted them long ago, likely to remind them that winter wouldn’t last forever.

The two wildflowers that truly signal a change of season is afoot are the trout lily and the spring beauty. I’ve seen both as early as the third week of January, more typically the second or third week of February. Once the temperature hits 60 for the first time and it’s accompanied by a cloudless day, that’s when my wildflower watch begins.

Given the conditions, I was surprised by yesterday’s spring peeper. Later in the day, though, I checked the calendar and discovered it was Imbolc, a pagan celebration marking the mid-point of winter. As Bon Jovi put it, “Whoa, we’re half way there.” 

Then I saw something that made me even more hopeful about the coming of spring: the forecast. The beginning of the week will see temperatures in the 60s with sun. Three days of prime conditions for the season’s first wildflower blooms.

Here’s hoping our spring peeper’s opening act is followed quickly by the main event.


Learn more about the spring peeper from The National Wildlife Foundation, here.

Learn more about Imbolc here.

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