Spring: Flowers, changeable weather and vultures

Spring, glorious spring has sidled up to the Rogue Valley again.

Each new season ushers in reminders, events and objects that trigger memories. When Uncle Dick thinks spring, he envisions sprouting vegetable seeds in peat boxes by a window, and the time he pitched a no-hitter in the Army Air Corps during WWII.

I can't look at a tulip without traveling back 27 years to an extremely warm day in March when our beautiful daughter, Emily, arrived and brought new meaning to the word love. Happy birthday, Em.

Spring is upon us with its teasing ways and meteorological mood swings. Predictably unpredictable, she announces her bold intentions with sun, wind, rain, sleet and sun again, all before you can grab your camera and focus on the promise of daffodils and tulips, which appear triumphant then cave in to a hail tantrum.

And just when the unseasoned naively stow their chains in the garage, snow arrives in the passes.

Unsettled weather isn't the only harbinger of springtime in our valley. Folks breaking out shorts and tank tops are another, never mind that the thermometer still reads 49 — the sun's out!

Baseball fields peopled with sluggers and fielders of dreams; reviving pastures dotted with foals, calves and frisking lambs; robins that chirp before dawn and don't know when to quit; me driving behind a tractor barely moving down a country lane; and Cadbury chocolate eggs are just a sprinkling of sure signs that herald a longed-for season of rebirth.

But there is at least one more, and I hope you'll indulge me.

Ken, my next-door neighbor, never phones me for idle chit-chat, so when he left a message, I figured it concerned something significant. It did. The call went something like this:

"Peggy, this is your neighbor, Ken. Your vultures are back. OK, that's all."

I raced to the kitchen window and craned my neck to scan the large fir in my yard these birds seem to favor. It's not as if I put out platters of carrion for them but, sure enough, four or five great, hulking, black shapes, no doubt worn out from the long flight back from their Mexican vacation, congregated high up within the boughs.

A turkey vulture appears to be about the size of a Cessna when it's curiously looking down at me through my window — well, anyway, much larger than when I see a "kettle" of them aloft, circling or riding thermals. I refrain from unwrapping packages of raw hamburger within their viewing.

I hate to think of the mess on my window, or house siding, a misinformed dive might cause. Actually, it's their keen sense of smell that steers them toward their goal, and I empty my trash regularly.

I recalled fondly the first time they chose my humble abode a couple years ago. I first heard the impressive "wumpf wumpf" sound their 5- to 6-foot wingspans made as they slowly swooped in for a landing and parked themselves on branches I was sure would give way. I live in town, so seeing these scavengers close up was a special treat for a nature lover like me, though I made certain to keep moving, appear robust and not lie down holding a chicken leg or lilies or anything.

After a few existential moments spent musing over the meaning of their presence, I called Ken and Barb thinking to share the spectacle like a good neighbor. They were way ahead of me and were already old chums with this group or "venue."

The vultures were there again this morning, but as I write, they've lifted off for their noble work, ridding the streets and fields of unwanted refuse one carcass at a time. No, I haven't named them, yet. But several options spring to mind: Buzz, Kojak, Red, Mr. Clean, etc.

Email me with your favorite spring sighting/memory. I'd love to hear about it, I think.

Peggy Dover is a freelance writer who works from a 1900 farmhouse in Eagle Point. Reach her at pcdover@hotmail.com.

Share This Story