March 20. 12:15 p.m. Vernal solstice. We remain buried in last week’s 20-inch snowfall, outside and inside.

March 31. In Backyard Naturalist reading at Bangor Land Trust, generous listeners agreed spring is more like a myth than a season, at this point.

April 1. Bonnie: “How come I haven’t heard any birds?”

April 5. Juncos hopping around inside the snowbank crater around the driveway this afternoon. In the evening sky, my old friend Leo. Morning temperature stuck in teens.

April 12. Walked in biting wind around Unity park with friend Joel from the college. Hills of icy snow forced detours on back stretches of path.

Friday the 13th. Temperature mid-50s. The first day that has felt like it might not be winter, even though 6- to 7-foot snowbanks still surround the dooryard and the bottom of the driveway is a wasteland of frozen planetary debris barely navigable by SUV.

April 15. “If you so much as dare to speak … you’re … back in the middle of March,” Frost wrote of your conventional April day in New England. Today, 35 degrees. Trees gray skeletons. Ice ledges in driveway. More like the middle of February. People in the outside world are starting to think the cold is letting go, but here, snow still blankets everything under the firs, hemlocks and cedars. The entire winter has been delayed one whole month, entering in December instead of November and sullenly subsiding in April instead of March, the way it did for approximately 14,000 years before the last three or four. Welcome to the modern world, where April really is the cruelest month.

April 20. Sitting in the living room this afternoon, we heard a woodpecker hammering after bugs, and then a flock of honking geese. The geese songs are always incredibly heartening, for reasons known only to spirits and musicians, and articulable by no one.

April 21. The phoebes have returned, perching on birches, twitching their tails, and chattering happily as they inspect the eaves of the garage. It looks like they’re relocating from the nest over the bathroom window, which they have used every spring for years.

April 22. The snowbanks around the top of the driveway have shrunk to about 4 feet.

April 24. L.L. Bean Weather Station thermometer said 78 degrees this afternoon, though the official temp seems to have been 70. Snowbank attrition continues but I still cannot walk to the compost bin without getting snow down my boots. Here inside the woods, nothing green. But up on Route 9, fat buds have appeared on shadbush trees. Two hackledmesh weavers were adventuring on the living room rug and kitchen sink. A running crab spider was in the mailbox. Bonnie killed a drunk mosquito Sunday.

April 25. I could not dislodge a Western conifer seed bug from my shirt, finally slapped it, and its rancid-pine stink filled the kitchen. They like the warm spring days, and gravitate back into the house on cold March nights. Cold April nights, I mean; sorry.

April 26. Whan that Aprille with his shoures soote, the drought of March hath perced to the roote, and bathed every veyne in swich licour, of which vertu engendered is the driveway ice. (Bonnie optimism: “It’s not snowing.”)

April 27. After two days of rain, 50 pleasant degrees, damp still air, milky sky, birdsong. In Greece, a morning like this was practically an annunciation.

April 29. Much warmer. Snowbanks receding. Geese low and loud early. Phoebes active. A mourning cloak. Actual red buds in trees. Peepers going mad in the beaver pond. A big female parson spider in the sink. One guidebook calls Herpyllus ecclesiasticus a “harbinger of spring” – is it finally here, or what?

May 1. Before the last few years of seasonal delay, the first dandelions would appear today practically without fail. No longer. Patches of snow still separate me from the compost bin. Maybe next week.

May 2. Upward of 80 degrees today. First signs of little green catkins on the small Bebb willow outside the bedroom window. Every day for the next two weeks I will think of the phrase Bebb Willow Catkin, who must have been a novelist from the Southern Renascence in the 19th century.

May 4. Springtime: Last patches of snow disappeared in the night. A squad of ants dragging a wolf spider’s stiff body to the roadside. A hackledmesh weaver finishing the last molt of his life, about to seek a mate. Forsythias like yellow bonfires in Unity village. Dogwoods practically iridescent in the evening. Still no dandelions.

May 5. Nature plays its cruelest joke today. After five or six months of paralyzing winter, it’s finally sunny and warm enough to go out in shirtsleeves. Only to be driven back inside by black flies that want to feast on your blood.

May 7. Unity park. Dandelions! Dandelions! Dandelions!

Dana Wilde lives in Troy. You can contact him at [email protected] His recent book is “Summer to Fall: Notes and Numina from the Maine Woods” available from North Country Press. Backyard Naturalist appears the second and fourth Thursdays each month.

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