Everyone's a Critic
The Observer's culture blogMonday, April 27, 2015
SPRING IN ANN ARBOR, by Margaret Bennett
We all love springtime in Ann Arbor, especially the usual things that remind us that spring has come—at last!
There is rain instead of snow. We need to get our umbrellas out in case rain comes when it's not expected, because sometimes the rain is more than a simple shower. At those times, an umbrella is our most prized possession. Occasionally as evening wears on, a few people even walk in the light rain.
The sun comes up earlier. It's warmer outdoors. The grass in lawns and other places along the roads and on the golf courses gets greener and greener.
People, especially seniors, are out walking instead of hurrying indoors to get to a warm place. Of course, their attire depends on the weather. If the weather is cool, on go the sweaters, warm hats, and wool sox. When it's raining, they walk inside one of the malls.
Dog-owners seem to enjoy walking their pets more in the more comfortable spring weather instead of hurrying along just to get the chore done.
Children are playing outdoors, and sometimes, just running around with their friends—enjoying their freedom. We see more bike riders—sometimes on weekends, whole families are out enjoying the lovely weather and observing their routes more closely. It's an attractive way to get exercise and spend time with others.
Those who ride bikes to work are less worrisome than in winter when they negotiate the snow and ice on our roads.
In spring, we see more of our neighbors as they emerge from their homes to clean up their yards and their gardens. Sometimes they tidy their garages. They may take time to visit with neighbors. Sometimes, al of us takes time to empty the fast food boxes and wrappers and other items that accumulated in our cars during the long winter.
There are flowering trees, lots of yellow daffodils and even low, blue flowers sprinkled in the grass in a few places. Many songbirds are singing during the day. They are especially loud on the sunniest days. Returning birds like the redwing blackbirds, arrive in a flash of color.
But there are some things that come with spring to Ann Arbor that you may not have noticed. There are green buds on the non-flowering hardwood trees. You see a soft green haze when you take time to look at them. But some of the other, big and small, trees have red buds—and not just the 'redbud' trees. These trees may be ones that have reddish leaves later in the year.
The sky is a lot like it is in winter. When the sun is out, the sky is a beautiful blue. Puffy white clouds float across it. But if the clouds turn dark gray, rain may be on the way.
And, of course, we often have a breeze. It moves the branches on the bare hardwood trees. It even moves some of the evergreen branches, especially those on the Michigan white pine trees.
Young people go outdoors in knee-length shorts (the men) or, sometimes in short skirts (the women). Their legs are bare even on days when the temperature is about 50 degrees.
As the weather warms up, groups of students gather on the steps of Angell Hall to listen to their group leaders provide information and directions.
As spring moves along, university students like to lounge on the lawns; but only when they are dry enough and when the weather is quite warm. It's a good place to visit with friends, or even to eat a snack, and drink something refreshing. Some students study on the grassy places around the university; but the weather has to be really comfortable.
It's easier to see the bird nests and the larger nests the squirrels build in the trees when the leaves are gone and the new leaves aren't large enough to hide things hidden in the branches. In summer when the trees are in full leaf—those nests, which seem to be built of dry leaves and perhaps other items the owners find are not visible.
It's easier to see the small stream behind my house when the leaves are off the trees, too. The stream always bubbles along. Sometimes, if I'm lucky, I can see the moon reflected in it some nights.
The streetlights where I live come on before the sun has set and before we need them. As evening moves along, darkness comes and the lights are helpful and cheerful.
As the grass behind my house gets greener, some small brownish birds arrive. I never see them at other times of year. They have yellow beaks and spend their time pecking at something in the lawn; there must be something edible for them.
The swans are back on our lakes and ponds. They don't fly away to warmer places until January. The young ones can't fly until their feathers are white and they are mature enough for the long trips. But they come back about the same time as the other migrant birds.
Swans are much bigger than you can imagine. If you have not seen one up close, you will not appreciate their huge size. But it's hard to realize their size as they glide along on the surface of our ponds and lakes.
There are many robins these days. But they never eat at bird feeders; they seem to prefer to eat worms. Their breasts are not really red, of course, more of an orange color. And they look fat. They must have had plenty to eat when they were in warmer places during the winter.
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