It’s happening.
The forest, still mostly in its winter hush,
but for the shifting songs of cardinals
and other year-round feathered residents
beginning to sing louder, with more gusto,
the forest is starting to wake up.
Sap is running and spring has begun to show herself.

And yesterday, as if spring equinox was precisely their cue.
the red-wing blackbirds returned.
It doesn’t take a master naturalist to notice this.
One day, occasional bird song could be heard.
The next, as if the heavens opened
and blackbirds spilled out,
the very air, the sky was filled with their red winged music.

It’s a showstopper, a sign of spring, of abundance.
Unprompted, my dog and I stopped in our tracks
looked up and all around
and breathed in their songs.

Meanwhile, humans, weary with winter,
trudge through more ice than snow these days.
We don’t dare look up as we walk,
the ice waits with devilish intentions.

But signs of spring are worth stopping for.
Hope is worth believing in.
Especially as many of us walk
with shoulders slumped from strain.

This has not been an easy time.
No one is without grief, without loss.
Empathy and compassion are yearned for
and sometimes hard to muster
as we work to put one foot in front of the other.

Still and always, the natural world can fill our souls.
No matter the season, there are always, always
signs of life, of balance, of peace.

Let yourself be stopped in your tracks
by whatever is happening in the real world.
A ray of sunshine, a pattern of clouds, returning migrators,
or a particularly inviting mud puddle—
let these real and Wild moments take you away and within,
to the Wild places that reside in you
and resonate with who you know yourself to be.

Let them heal you from the weight you carry.
Like a strong wind, they will move in and through you,
creating a shift, an opening
where you can breathe from your belly
move with connection and purpose,
and find what you nearly forgot you were looking for.