Wild Georgia: Say goodbye to winter and hello to spring

Credit: Charles Seabrook

Credit: Charles Seabrook

By now, after weeks of mostly balmy weather, singing birds and early blooming flowers, the first day of spring may not be such a noteworthy event. The season begins with the spring equinox at 5:24 p.m. Monday.

In the same instance, the season of winter will end; that, too, likely will go unnoticed. The changing seasons, however, are a major reason why I love living in Georgia. I wouldn’t want to live, for instance, in the tropics, where the weather is warm year-round and there are only two seasons: rainy and dry.

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I love our four seasons — even winter. To me, even though winter may be cold and a bit drab, we might not fully appreciate the warmth and beauty of spring without winter. Even in the face of climate change, I hope we’ll always have the wonders and joys of each season:

• Spring, when trilliums, hepaticas, bluebells, violets, dogwoods and a riot of other wildflowers bloom in stunning displays in the woods; bees buzz and butterflies flit among the blooms; ruby-throated hummingbirds, warblers and other birds return; songbirds in spiffy breeding colors sing their hearts out to woo mates.

• Summer, when the landscape is lush with 50 shades of green; nesting is in full swing; sea turtles lay eggs on coastal beaches; bluebirds, cardinals, Carolina wrens and other year-round birds raise second broods; baby animals are everywhere; cicadas and katydids sound off.

• Fall, when the mountains are ablaze with dazzling leaf color; goldenrods, asters and other autumn wildflowers adorn woods, fields and roadsides; an abundance of nuts, berries and other wild food ripens.

• Winter, when bare tree limbs form intricate silhouettes against the sky; pines, hollies, cedars and other evergreens stand out in the brown woods; “winter birds,” such as yellow-rumped warblers and cedar waxwings, come in; many duck species show up; right whales give birth in coastal waters.

As German philosopher Johann Gottfried von Herder said: “What spring did not sow, summer cannot ripen, autumn cannot reap, winter cannot enjoy.”

IN THE SKY: From David Dundee, Tellus Science Museum astronomer: The moon will be new on Tuesday. Venus and Jupiter are low in the west at dusk. Jupiter will appear near the moon on Wednesday; Venus will do so on Thursday. Mars is high in the southwest at dark. Mercury and Saturn are not easily visible.

Charles Seabrook can be reached at charles.seabrook@yahoo.com.