2011.02.26 Search for spring

Written by David Green.

By DAVID GREEN

I heard a dove singing one morning last week. I saw a bluejay, heard a cardinal, watched geese overhead and listened to the grackles singing a new song.

I even heard a bob-o-link singing last week at work. I was so puzzled that I went outside to find it. I came back in scratching my head, only to hear a great horned owl. That’s when I discovered that my recording of the city council meeting had ended and iTunes moved on to a recording of bird calls.

Until the ice arrived, I thought maybe spring was on the way. Here’s a search from March 1991.

Ben was the first one into the cockle burrs. Rosanna grabbed a greenbrier vine and later got caught in a raspberry bramble. All of us got wet from the rain. Yet, in summary, I would have to say that a good time was had by all.

All of this happened late Saturday afternoon. Remember how hard the wind was blowing? I thought it would be great to walk along Bean Creek and watch those big cottonwoods sway.

How my memory fails me. I forgot that all the big trees were cut down a few years ago. The wind was still whipping through what’s left over. The hackberries are good for wind noise and so are the honey locust with all those spines sticking out.

I thought about taking this hike all day, but I never had the chance to leave until just about the time the rain started. Ben checked the wind chill chart and discovered it would feel like 30° out there even though it was 20° warmer. We suited up and took off into the wind looking for signs of spring.

The first clue came right behind the mill. Sure, the mill has been gone for 20 years, but many of you know where I mean. We scared up a kingfisher out hunting the illusive quill-back carpsucker.

Back when Steve Begnoche worked here, he wrote a story about a DNR survey of fish in Bean Creek. One of them was the quill-back which I believe is listed as a protected species. One of these years Adam Johnson is going to get his wish and Morenci will become famous for its Quill-Back Carpsucker Fishing Tournament. Adam will probably be arrested by conservation officers.

Ben thought he found a skunk cabbage sprout, but it was a false alarm. We did finds remnants of the last season—and old Indian cucumber seed pod blowing in the wind, carrion flower clusters bouncing around, some bladdernut fruit still clinging to a branch. 

We reached the old drainage creek and the excursion became more interesting. Cattail shoots were appearing in the water and a few water striders were skimming the surface of the stream. Ben spotted the larva of something in the the water that reminded him of his now defunct sea monkey collection.

Rosanna was clinging to my hand as we maneuvered along the muddy embankment. If she fell, I knew she would take me along for company.

It started raining too hard to see much in the water so we headed on down the path with Ben in the lead. It was so windy that we couldn’t hear each other walk and he kept turning around to see if we were still there. Back a few years ago, I stepped behind a tree and Ben thought I was gone. He probably hasn’t trusted me since.

The whole family walked down here a month ago and every time the path neared the creek, Maddy would yell, “Don’t throw me in! Don’t throw me in!” What a reputation I have.

A pair of geese flew over, then circled and passed overhead again. Rose found a muddy buckeye. Ben swung on a grapevine that broke in mid flight. I refused a request to cross the wet log over the creek and instead we headed back to town. It was beginning to feel as though it really was 30°.

It was the third day of spring, but that was more of a calendar event than a natural one. True, it’s getting light a lot earlier in the morning and the birds are definitely singing a new tune, but it’s still rather chilly and inactive.

But wait, what’s that sound? We’re back near the drainage creek again and I think we can finally hear spring. The woods are starting to get loud. It’s not the wind this time, but the frogs. The peepers are up and around. Spring really is here.

  • Front.train
    WRECKAGE—Morenci Fire Department member Taylor Schisler walks past the smoking wreckage of a semi-truck tractor on the north side of the Norfolk and Southern Railroad tracks on Ranger Highway. The truck trailer was on the south side of the tracks
  • Front.sculpta
    SCULPTORS—Morenci third grade students Emersyn Thompson (left) and Marissa Lawrence turn spaghetti sticks into mini sculptures Friday during a class visit to Stair District Library. All Morenci Elementary School classes recently visited the library to experience the creative construction toys purchased through the “Sculptamania!” project, funded by a Disney Curiosity Creates grant. The grant is administered by the Association for Library Services to Children, a division of the American Library Association.
  • Funcolor
    LEONIE LEAHY was one of three local hair stylists who volunteered time Friday at the Morenci PTO Fun Night. Her customer, Aubrey Sandusky, looks up at her mother while her hair takes on a perfect match to her outfit. Leahy said she had a great time at the event—nothing but happy clients.
  • Shadow.salon
    LEARNING THE ROPES—Kristy Castillo (left), co-owner of Mane Street Salon, works with Kendal Kuhn as Sierra Orner takes a phone call. The two Morenci Area High School juniors spent Friday at the salon as part of a job shadowing experience.
  • KayseInField
    IN THE FIELD—2004 Morenci graduate Kayse Onweller works in a test plot of wheat in Texas. She’s part of Bayer CropScience’s North American wheat breeding program based in Nebraska, where she completed post-graduate work in plant breeding and genetics.
  • Front.winner
    REFEREE Camden Miller raises the hand of Morenci Jr. Dawgs wrestler Ryder Ryan as his opponent leaves the mat in disappointment. Morenci’s youth wrestling program served as host for a tournament Saturday morning to raise money for the club. Additional photos are on the back page.
  • Front.bank.2
    SHERWOOD STATE Bank opened its Fayette office at a grand opening Friday morning, drawing a large crowd to view the renovated building. Above, Burt Blue talks to teller Cindy Funk, while his wife, Jackie, looks around the new office. The Blues missed the opening and took a quick tour on Tuesday. Few traces remain of the former grocery store and theater, however, part of the original brick wall still shows in the hallway leading to the back of the building. The drive-through window should be ready for customers later in the month.
  • Front.make.three
    FROM THE LEFT, Landon Wilkins, Ryan White and Logan Blaker try out their artistic skills Saturday afternoon at the Morenci PTO’s first Date to Create event. More than 50 people showed up to create decorated planks of wood to hang from rope. The event served as a fund-raiser for miscellaneous PTO projects. Additional photos are on the back of this week’s Observer.

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