One of the biggest adjustments I have had since moving to Montana nearly five years ago is predicting the shift from winter to spring. Someone told me that it occurs about the time the Beartooth Pass is cleared off in early June . . . but, that isn’t quite true . . . close, but not true. Since moving to Montana I have tried in vain to predict when winter ends and spring begins.
In Nebraska, where I lived prior to coming to Big Sky Country, the transition from winter to spring was not that difficult to predict. I had two major indicators . . . Sandhill Cranes and road kill. Typically the migration of the Sandhill Cranes was an indicator that spring was not too far off. With the arrival of the cranes for refueling along the Platte River it meant that we had one more big storm and then spring. Though we do have Sandhill Cranes in Montana, usually the ones that do not want to summer in Canada, there is no major migration . . . thus no signs to help me prepare for spring.
Road kill . . . well, Montana has a lot of road kill because Montana has lots of critters. In Nebraska when the road kill was populated with dead skunks and raccoons, you knew that sprig was not that far off. Lately, I have seen dead skunks all over the road . . . but, I have also seen a lot dead deer. No raccoons, though. So, I am not sure I am dealing with a bunch of insomniac skunks who woke up early and me their demise, or if spring is just around the corner.
I wonder . . . the weather has gotten the point where we are getting more rain and snow storms than snow storms. The temperatures have been in the upper thirties and lower forties, but the nights have still been in the teens . . . is spring around the corner?
I don’t know. But, what I do know is that I am learning that one of the signs of spring for the Keener household is when the backyard begins to thaw. The backyard is a no-man land when it comes to thawing. We typically get snow in late October and the backyard stays covered until spring begins to show up . . . and, that varies from year to year. Well, the backyard is almost devoid of snow as of today . . . oh, yeah, there are spots here and there, but for the most part the snow has melted. Unfortunately the thawing of the backyard is becoming one of the signs—or should I say smells—that spring is not too far off.
Four months of not being able to clean up the dog’s bathroom creates quite a mess and smell . . . poop stinks! It is amazing how much poop a medium sized Boxer and a Dachshund can produce in a four-month period. It is a good thing that the wind seems to blow all of the time here in Montana.
But the thaw is on and the dogs are not happy that their “bathroom” hasn’t been cleaned in four months. I guess I would be a little upset too . . . so, today was the day that the “bathroom” got cleaned. Today I raked the yard. I was tired of sharing my bathroom with the dogs—who, about a month ago, had taught themselves to use the toilets in the house. The raking was no fun . . .
Though the snow had melted, the ground had not. The melted snow turned into water . . . water that could not be absorbed into the ground . . . water and poop is not a good combination. Needless to say, I was not a happy camper. After an hour I wondered where in the world these two could come up with so much . . . well, I also thought that it might be time to cut back on feeding the dogs to about once a week! But, I persevered, raked up the whole yard, made it presentable to the dogs, and rid the neighborhood of any shifts in the wind.
Now, I am not sure that I would consider the thawing of the Keener’s backyard as a sign that spring is just around the corner, but it is a start. I am not sure that dead skunks in the middle of the road constitute the start of spring. Teenagers wearing shorts to school . . . nope, they do that year-round here in Montana. The state legislature actually passing a bill . . . nope, it would never happen and if it did it would be more a sign that the rapture is about to occur. Tulips popping up . . . nope, appetizers for the deer. That is the problem, there are no definite signs that spring is just around the corner here in Montana. But I do want to know because I sure as heck don’t want to miss the week that it occurs. Spring happens in the blink of an eye here in Montana, but it is a glorious week when it happens . . . I just don’t want to miss it. Right now, all I know is that the dogs are happy to get their yard back.
Somebody out there want to help me? Give me a clue? Is spring really around the corner?