I miss the old harbingers of spring, the three sure signs that guaranteed the arrival of balmy weather, song birds and blossoms.
I used to be able to count on them, but not any more. Man-made climate change has rendered them unreliable. I have been reluctantly forced to adopt instead, man-made harbingers, tell-tale signs of spring that obey not the laws of nature, but invisible and mysterious corporate and social algorithms.
I remember when I used to be able to observe the melting of the snow from my pasture as a preliminary sign spring had arrived, but changing weather patterns have made that a joke.
Blizzards now dump metres of snow unpredictably in every region of Canada from March to May. Suddenly, bare fields are turned into winter wastelands. The arrival of the robins was the second sign I always looked forward to.
With the snow almost gone, the energetic red-breasted birds would arrive to feed on the worms and insects awakened in the soil by the warming sun.
But last year, when the weather turned for the third time in late-March, I was crushed to find a poor robin under a cedar bush, frozen solid; a feathery birdsicle that indicated the creature’s innate instincts could no longer be relied upon to foretell spring’s arrival.
And finally, the annual migration of deer from within the Grand Forks city limits to my property was a certain sign that the subtle greening of wild shrubbery had begun to entice the animals from the safety of the city.
But now, the deer seem content to laze year-round in the confines of the parks and yards of the municipality, where sustenance is much more reliable.
No, the new, man-made signs of spring are much more trustworthy, as evidenced just this last week.
In rapid succession, the three new sure signs appeared followed by sustained soaring temperatures.
First, Home Hardware launched TV ads advertising lawn furniture instead of snow shovels. Somewhere at company headquarters a brilliant computer program determined time for the ads had arrived.
Second, instead of a robin, I observed an older woman on a downtown street sporting her spring plumage, that is, a pair of overly tight shorts and a T-shirt, both revealing that she had survived the winter very well indeed.
And lastly, the arrival of spring was confirmed by the appearance in Vancouver of the resident flock of anarchists, spray painting buildings and stealing signs.
Obviously, the heat generated by the sun on their black clothing aroused them from their winter torpor, energizing the poor, thin, pasty creatures for another season of aimless pillage.
Whatever the signs, rejoice! Spring is here.
– Jim Holtz is WEEKENDER columnist and former reporter for the Grand Forks Gazette