There is much to quicken the pulse at this time of year. So much to see, hear and appreciate.
Frogs and salamanders awake in these long-anticipated days of early spring. Buds swell and the first wildflowers unfurl their petals to greet the warming sun. Rain and meltwater coaxes green from the moist earth.
Migrant birds reclaim territories in the still leafless woods. One is the winter wren, whose ethereal voice cascades from hidden perches among cedar and hemlock.
There is much to quicken the pulse at this time of year. So much to see, hear and appreciate. The earliest blossoms of our lovely woodland wildflowers, for example, including spring beauty and hepaticas daubed white, pink and purple.
Leatherwood, a glorious woodland shrub with the form of a muscular mature tree, is blooming. Its yellow flowers spangle escarpment woodlands. Tilt your nose to them to inhale a subtle but delightful scent.
Frog songs reverberate in the spring woods: the ubiquitous piping of spring peepers, the guttural quacking of wood frogs, and in some locales, the creaky voices of chorus frogs.
And of course, there are the salamanders that engage in age-old mating rituals in woodland pools. The most common of these, the spotted salamander, is a creature of sublime beauty.
These salamanders enjoy a brief aquatic sojourn before they leave the ponds and retreat with their beauty underground for the remainder of the year. But they leave behind their precious eggs, seeds of another generation.
The ponds where frogs and salamanders breed are biotic soups filled with fascinating invertebrates. Water beetles and daphnia, backswimmers and fairy shrimp are all part of a great matrix of life animated by this turn of the seasons.
As the Covid pandemic holds us in its stubborn grip, a walk in the woods at this time of year can buoy spirits. Life renewed in all its glorious diversity.