You know it’s late winter when…

You know it’s late winter when you have to get closer to the window to see the sun in mid-day.

You know it’s late winter when the snow melt running down the alley is marbled with the colors of oil from decomposing leaves instead of car gas or oil.

You know it’s late winter when the fast rap at the door turns out to be a woodpecker on a telephone pole two houses down.

You know it’s late winter when the cardinals, house finches and tufted titmice are singing like they’re celebrating the Beatles’ America anniversary.

You know it’s late winter when a cottontailed rabbit enveloped in afterglow for the first time since September moves a few feet from cover in broad daylight.

You know it’s late winter when a strange phone ringing sound in the front room turns out to be a small woodpecker drilling on a tree branch in the front yard.

You know it’s late winter when the Weather Channel totally ignores Hayward, Wisconsin’s eighth 15-inch-plus snowstorm of the season but does 17 minutes on Memphis, Tenn., getting one-and-a-half inches of snow.

You know it’s late winter when silver maple leaf buds turn reddish and bulge to an extreme while the sap in this species flows at the same time.

You know it’s late winter when the Amish tap and hang buckets on the trees with the bulging red buds.

You know it’s late winter when you discover an old hawk’s nest with feathery ears.

You know it’s late winter when bluegrass lawns are as dead as ever.

You know it’s late winter when the tree litter in a cemetery from a windy night lies on the snow in an arrangement of randomness that pleases the eye more than the anal and boring arrangements of flowers and wreaths at graves.

You know it’s late winter when kids re-enacting the Super Bowl on a frozen, dead bluegrass lawn are hit by a small excremental tribute by a flock of cedar waxwings. The waxwings were exiting the native landscaped lawn next door that’s full of shrubs loaded with nutritious berries.

You know it’s late winter when a warm, sunny day vanquishes your winter depression for 72 hours.

You know it’s late winter when you’re near a snowless field on an above 40-degree day, and you can actually smell the soil when you roll your car window down.

You know it’s late winter when you see a little more cat fur lying around the house.

You know it’s late winter when you visit the naturists next door, and you find a little more disrobed clothing lying around their house.

You know it’s late winter when you have to keep tabs on your cat because the neighborhood pair of great horned owls are feeding their young now.

You know it’s late winter when the bear hibernating under your cabin occasionally stirs.

I know it’s late winter when I see the hippie couple next door hanging around more outside. Mrs. Hippie’s hippie name was borrowed from a famous river, but with her own spelling. She spells it “Mississhippie.”

Rod Myers is a local resident with an interest in the environment and disability issues. He has an associate’s degree in science and a bachelor’s in fine arts. Rod is a member of the Audubon Society, the Wild Ones Natural Landscapers and Rockford Amateur Astronomers, Inc.

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