Just before all this waiting life breaks out is the time to see where to look.
The long, dry grasses crushed to the ground by the snows are soaking up March warmth and holding it for the herd of deer who gather here below the crest at night. Their pellets are everywhere. Place your hand to the flattened turf and a low heat rises to meet it.
A fox has been digging rabbits out of their holes. The fur of one lies scattered in bits in a jagged circle.
This is the season for spotting hornet’s nests, now unclouded by leaves — last summer must have been a rich one for their prey. I have never seen so many nests, and most as large as a pouchy grocery bag. The queens found loose soil or leaf piles to over-winter and burrowed in; they will be out in another few weeks. They will all be out soon — spiders and ant lions and flies (oh my) and then the insect eaters will come in, the swallows and warblers.
Birds’ nests have shown themselves too. High and low, and always masked by the skeletal cover of limbs or vines which you must imagine as already full. I have begun to scatter pulverized egg shells under the trees where the feeders hang. Females ingest the calcium to begin forming their new eggs.
Yesterday I saw a Marsh Hawk, its dipping, careening profile looking like half of a Chinese throwing star. It was hunting, low and focused, but our sudden appearance sent it screaming off, a shock wave over the path of whatever it crossed.