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To Everything a Season: Turning Toward Spring

Sunday marks the return to Daylight Savings Time and that got us thinking about transitions. Already the day has extended enough so that there’s still light on the horizon at 5:30 when we leave the office and head down Grand Avenue. There’s enough light to see the footbridge to the other side of Boothbay harbor and it’s easy to imagine boats settling on the moorings adjacent to the lobster boats, giving them some company after a cold hard winter.

We’re seeing company, too. Contractors’ vans outside the summer places. Our own checklists here at Spruce Point Inn are growing longer with the light, preparing for Opening Day on May 17th.

We were just reading one of our favorite nature columnists, writing about the signs of Spring. She was commenting on the fact that the iconic robins now actually stick around all year – we just see them under the feeders because their usual supply of bugs has not yet emerged. But she talked about red-winged blackbirds; and they’re the heralds, if Spring is some sort of royalty waiting for someone to open the doors. Because their call is so distinctive, we identify it when we hear it. The cardinals and bluejays, the chickadees all wear an audible identity along with their characteristic colors. Like the constellations, we’ve learned to tell Orion from the Big Dipper. But RWBBs have, as Sibley says, a “liquid gurgle” to their “ee-oo-lay.” And then we start looking for them, black with red epaulets, hanging from the top of grasses in the marsh. And know it’s spring. We pause to listen, and mouth a prayer that thanks to the Midcoast’s own Rachel Carson, there is no “Silent Spring.”

This transition, like Daylight Savings, seems abrupt. One day the birds are just there; one day the light remains at the end of the day. Then a new phase settles in. Very soon, dawn arrives right where we’re leaving it off now; and after the first day’s grumbling about having to get up in the dark again, we’re quickly transformed by the feeling of warm sun on our faces (even if snow lingers in the shadows) and soon we’ll be opening doors and windows to complete the guestroom ‘sprucing up’ for your return.

It’s like those transitional lenses. Instead of carrying the case for sun/glasses in your pocket, and constantly forgetting where you put it down, you walk outside and ‘ta da!’ the lenses darken; and then they lighten without your thinking about it when you come inside. Just like the redwing blackbirds and the longer afternoons, it just happens.

The constant ebb and flow of the tide reminds us that these transitions, too, are the stuff of “oceanside memories made in Maine.” Sometimes the most reassuring are the ones that are imperceptible; but that, like the coast of Maine and historic Spruce Point Inn, endure.