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The Symphony of Spring

By Paul Cypher, Metropark Interpreter, Oakwoods Nature Center and Marshlands Museum Nature Center

Take a moment and think about your favorite song. Maybe it’s a classical piece. Or perhaps it’s a bit more modern.  In any case, as you listen, you can certainly gain an appreciation for each instrument. Maybe it is significant, and heard throughout the song, or maybe it is so subtle that it’s almost overlooked.

Think, too, about the energy of that song.  Maybe it’s slow and plodding as opposed to powerful and driving. Maybe your song even has elements of both. In any case, your song is a woven texture of instruments and energy. When played live, it can be even more dynamic.

Believe it or not, spring works the same way.  You can certainly hear it. Sometimes, you can feel it.

When the conductor steps onto the podium or the drummer sits behind the set, the energy is building. In early spring, energy is also building.  The longer days literally illuminate the stage.  The sun’s heat contributes as well. Temperatures slowly rise. Ice melts. Waters warm. Sap flows. Buds swell.

The Red-winged Blackbird is one of the earliest musicians on the scene.  Staking out territories by late February, they are soon joined by other feathered instrumentalists. The robin, the Canada goose and the cardinal all have parts to play.

As more energy enters the scene, the symphony’s tempo increases. Reptiles and amphibians, silent and cold during the dark winter, begin their contributions at the proper time as if invited in to the song by some invisible conductor. Insects emerge from eggs or tucked-away nooks.  Mammals, some of whom were on stage all winter long, become more active as the breeding season approaches.

By late April, and continuing for weeks, the spring symphony is perhaps at its best.  All the major instruments are in place and in perfect synch. Flower varieties are bursting in sequence. These in turn attract the tiny insects that emerge just in time to be eaten by birds arriving from their tropical winter homes. They, in turn, are singing, adding a stunning dimension to the spring symphony.

By early June, spring’s concert of sound, emotion and sensation begins to give way to summer. In a sense, it ends the same way it began – slowly, but with purpose.

Some would suggest that the best way to experience a concert is from the front row. The Huron-Clinton Metroparks are the stage. The front row is simply wherever you happen to be – the nature trail, the river’s edge or even the picnic table.

Ladies and gentlemen, your seats are waiting!

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