Blackbirds! Bluebirds! & Snowdrops Oh My!


Yesterday the first flock of Red-winged Black birds arrived here at Heartstone. These true harbingers of spring  show up like a noisy gang of teenagers arriving home after school looking for snacks. This morning the dawn chorus of songbirds shifted from quiet winter chirping to the “warming-up” spring phase of calling in a mate and singing their thanksgiving for another day. Finally, two days ago, the bluebird males were singing their spring song while snooping around the boxes looking for a place to spruce up so they could court a girl and build a home together. So guess who will be out there today cleaning out said boxes (I also do it in the Fall, but the mice tend to take up residence over the winter.)?


Who knew such sweetness waited behind this bluebird box? Some industrious House wren worked laboriously to build a soft nest of moss for her eggs. When I removed the screening in the box I was surprised to find three sweet little eggs that must’ve fallenthrough. I’m talking tiny, the length of a penny. Such a tender moment as I stood in the sun behind the barn, envisioning this year’s clutch of eggs and how I could help the family not lose any eggs through the too big screen.


I’m not sure what you do to celebrate Spring, but my list is quite long. It begins with this noticing of shifts in the natural world, including my own body. If I’m quiet enough I feel myself shifting from hibernation into dreaming, planning and making my list for the garden season. Two weeks ago I couldn’t even look at the seed catalogue, today I’ve made my list and placed the order.

People often ask me where I buy seeds. For herbs I buy from Strictly Medicinal Seeds (formerly Horizon Herbs) and Fedco. Both are online and both send catalogues in the mail. Fedco carries cover crops, flowers, tubers and vegetables as well. They are a co-op from Maine so the varieties do well in our Northern climate. They do not sell GMO seeds. Strictly Medicinal owned and operated by Richo Cech, an herbalist, is a treasure-trove of information and hard to get varieties. His classic, Making Plant Medicine is coming out in it’s 4th edition this Spring and you can pre-order now.

The Snowdrops are up and the crocuses and daffodils are starting to peak their heads up. Another spring ritual for me is to go out every day and wander around to see who has poked up through the underground. I can’t WAIT for nettles to peak out, but know she will be a bit yet before she lets her presence be known.

Finally, we have a fire somewhere around the Equinox. It feels good to be out in the elements (whatever they are that day), to burn some old brush and be thankful we’ve made it through another winter.

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I am so grateful for another spring season. Oh I’m sure there might be more snow, slush, rain, and of course, mud, but the birds are coming back, they’ve changed their tune and the sun is out much longer each day. Maybe in two months or so the compost will have thawed, I can get out there and screen it and will be in complete and utter spring bliss!!!






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I'm a researcher, educator, guest lecturer, and co-founder of Heartstone Center for Earth Essentials in Van Etten, NY.