To The Editor,

Is it too early to start thinking about spring? Now, don’t get me wrong. I love all the seasons. The long, hot, sunny days of summer, sitting on the porch with a cold one under a blue sky. The crisp air, and beautiful colors of autumn, with walks in the bush and the anticipation of Thanksgiving. Even winter has its charms, with snoozes in front of the fire and my wife’s world class turkey soup. But spring?

Ahhhh, spring! When it no longer takes 10 minutes of getting dressed just to step outside. When there is no more stumbling over icy ruts and wading through slush. When you no longer risk terminal frostbite just by going for a walk. Spring, the season of reawakening. A time of new things and new beginnings. When you can finally unclench, relax a little and look forward with hope. And open the windows.

And so, we here, each year, eagerly look for signs that we know from experience promise that this magical season is actually approaching. One of these signs has already appeared. Starting last December 21, each day became a little bit longer than the one before. Just a few days ago this slow process had advanced to the point where that found us shouting “Look! Look! Its 5 p.m. and the sun is still up! Break out the wine!”

The next highly anticipated sign will be when the crows, with us in flocks all winter, start to pair off and squabble over nesting sites and territory. This happens about mid to late February though, only wishful thinking that I know it to be, I think I can detect it already. The confirmed sighting of the first robin is a matter of great interest to us, as is the sighting of the first V of geese, though when that first V appears, my wife seems embarrassed by my leaping about in the front yard waving my arms and honking “Welcome back!!”

But all of those signs, important as they are to us, pale in comparison to the departure of the river ice. Locally, it is termed the ‘breakaway’ and it is the last, and the most dramatic, sign of spring’s arrival. We live near the Ottawa River and as the weeks pass, we watch the river like hawks, for it will happen with no warning. Sometime in early to mid April, suddenly, and in complete silence, with no hint of what is about to happen, the ice will pull away from the shore. And it can happen any time, day or night. One minute you are looking, as you have for months, at a barren, static, icy desert and seconds later, hundreds of acres and hundreds of thousands of tons of ice are soundlessly moving away from the shore and a swiftly widening gap of open water appears. This is breakaway, the final sign of spring, and the moment is celebrated with cheers, picture taking and the clinking of glasses.
Anyway, dear editor, the point of this letter, and it does indeed have one, is this: We are surely not the only ones who have our favourite signs of spring. There must be many others out there, wise readers of The Review that they are, who also have their favourite signs that winter is on its way out. And we would love to hear of them and add them to our own collection. Do you think you could find it in your heart to ask your other readers to write and share ?
Many thanks in advance,
Colin Affleck
Champlain Township