About 9:30 this morning a female cardinal perched on a tree branch right outside my front room window and started chirping. I smiled and wondered if she was bragging, saying I-told-you-so-I-told-you-so! But I concluded she was just plain happy with our sunny, thirty-five degree morning.

Ah, then I understood …  she was inviting me to come outside. I couldn’t resist. I hadn’t had even one walk outside since the end of November; too much frigid cold and snow. I put on my waterproof hiking boots, my gloves and winter jacket and a grey hood and went out the back door. I looked at my cell phone; it was 9:49 AM.

As I walked down Greenwood Avenue I could see that most of the sidewalks had been shoveled. Some had snow and ice but that was because Greenwood gets a lot of foot traffic. With so much snow and people walking on it, it’s impossible to keep all of it from icing over. I walked to Union Street and paused. This was my first time out in over three months. Should I go all the way to Vermont and do my two mile walk or should I turn west and head over to Memorial Park?

Just then another cardinal started chirping on Union Street, toward the park. I took that as my answer and headed west. Secretly I hoped I would see one of my hawk friends. I didn’t, but I did hear a house finch. House finches are about the size of a sparrow and similar in color except that they have reddish feathers by their head and on their breast. House finches sound something like robins, except they never seem to stop chirping. When I walked along the west end of the park I looked through the chain-link fence at the marshy reeds and cattails left over from last summer but I didn’t see any red-winged blackbirds. They are the real harbingers of spring because they return two weeks before the robins arrive.

I don’t know how the maintenance people at Memorial Park do it, but they always clean the walkways no matter how much snow we get. As I was completing my circuit around the park I thought I heard a hawk in the distance. I stopped and looked west but never saw any. I headed east on Union. I heard more sparrows, the cardinal and then, a chickadee. All of these birds spend the winter with us, but are mostly silent in the dead of winter. Today they were all chirping to welcome the warm weather.

As I arrived home I checked my phone again; 10:19 AM. Thirty minutes; not bad considering the amount of ice and snow I had to walk on. Usually it would take about twenty five minutes. I’m hoping I can get several more walks in next week. Maybe I’ll see a hawk.

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