The voice of the turtledoves

Published 5:29 pm Saturday, March 7, 2015

And then, suddenly, it was 50 degrees, sunny, with skies of blue clear to the horizon.

It seems there’s always a day in Southeast Virginia like Saturday, a day near the end of winter, when spring asserts itself with a light breeze and the sound of birds calling for mates.

On the heels of a night in which temperatures dipped into the teens once again, Saturday burst forth with the promise that winter’s icy grip on Suffolk has loosened.

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To be sure, there was still snow on the ground in places, and the city’s ponds and lakes were still thawing after weeks of being covered in ice. And the calendar reminds us that there are still a couple more weeks before spring is official. But I will think of Saturday as the first day of spring.

Availing myself of the opportunity to sit outside for a bit and enjoy the near-forgotten feeling of sunlight touching skin, I listened to the sounds of the neighborhood awakening from the slumber of an unusually hard Tidewater winter.

One neighbor was busy with a leaf blower. The still-bare branches of trees that had not yet gotten the message to spring forth with new life swayed in a breeze intent on blowing away the gloom that seemed to have descended along with the Arctic temperatures of February. And the birds chittered and chirped, skittered and squawked as they searched for the prime places to build the nests where they will raise a new generation of young.

Ever the harbingers of change — whether from night to day or winter to spring — the birds are always the announcers I trust most to tell me darkness has lifted and something new and wonderful is on its way.

Looking across my lawn, I see the scattering of branches and twigs and dead leaves that remind me of the power of winter. But the birds remind me that power will be broken.

“The flowers appear on the earth; The time of the singing of birds is come, And the voice of the turtle-dove is heard in our land.” (Song of Solomon 2:12 ASV)