It’s that time of year again, folks. Time for the dormant period in that part of earth known as North America to come to an end. Time for things to start waking up, shaking up, and moving around again.
I know this because the days are getting longer, there are upwards of a dozen robins in the yard, and the raccoons have been assiduously raiding the bird feeders again.
Plus, there is a sort of booklet with numbered squares and the days of the week on every page that hangs sideways on the wall by a nail and says spring started 10 days ago.
But who’s counting?
Thank heaven for those clues, because you certainly can’t tell from the weather that spring is here. Even as we speak, our little corner of the Midwest is under yet another Winter Storm Watch—which, if memory serves, is about the 12th such weather event in 4 frigging months.
But, again, who’s counting?
Clearly not the cranes, Lilith and Frasier, who arrived two weeks earlier this year than last year. I know this because their arrival LAST year came up in my Facebook memories THIS year bearing a date that was 17 days later in 2022 than that of the photo I had taken and sent to the Jarhead 17 days before since he was not present to personally bear witness to the joyous occasion this year, and I knew his inquiring mind would want to know.
I’m not sure what prompted them to come back early this year of all years, but I bet they were damned surprised to find all the snow and ice still blanketing the yard, not to mention the 13 inches that fell the following weekend. I can almost imagine the conversation they had as the one who convinced the other to leave their nice, warm winter home in the sunbelt squawked apologies and begged forgiveness from the other, who pretended to not be mad while whispering obscenities under his/her breath and wondering if it might be time to stop fighting the urge to look up his/her long-lost first love on the avian equivalent of Facebook.
Anyway, since Frasier and Lilith arrived, several more of our resident cranes have followed suit. Most notable among the arrivals was a group that we half-jokingly call our polyamorous “throuple.” You can’t miss them because, one, there are three of them instead of two and, two, because one of them has a wing that is very obviously broken.
“He” first got my attention in April of 2022 when he appeared in our yard with the bottom third of one wing almost completely detached from the rest. He not only seemed to be in pain, but also had trouble walking, flying, and feeding normally because the semi-detached portion got in the way. It worried me so much that I called the DNR and several bird rehabilitation centers and sanctuaries, but no one could help. Let nature take its course, seemed to be the consensus.
To our surprise, he soon found himself a mate who accompanied him everywhere—on foot, that is, since he couldn’t fly. We never saw them with chicks, but near the end of summer they were joined by another larger crane. At first, we thought this new guy was an interloper looking to break up the happy couple. Thus, we were shocked to see the new guy instead giving our guy flying lessons. Apparently, like us, he was worried our guy wouldn’t be able to fly south for the winter, and that he wouldn’t survive the winter in Wisconsin. And it seemed to work. More than once I saw our guy take off and land. To be fair, more than once, I also saw him take off and crash. But he never quit trying.
And now the three of them have returned. Together, in holy polyamory, or so it seems. Ain’t love grand?
Meanwhile, new males continue to court and woo new females in our back forty. Just last week I witnessed a double-wedding, and it was magical. Well, almost. As two males stood on the point at the end of the berm behind our house making the kind of racket that only male Sandhill cranes and middle schoolers in their first year of trumpet or trombone lessons can make, two females fluttered down, strutted around, and love, as they say, was found. All that was missing was Chuck Woolery.
Meanwhile, other critters are coming out of hibernation. Raccoons. Skunks. Me.
Unlike the bears, I’m not any thinner than I was before winter. And fortunately, unlike the bears, I didn’t give birth during the winter either. So, I guess that makes it a wash.
On the other hand, we did acquire a new den. A 1.5 story Victorian-era den, to be exact.
I know. I know. Who buys another fixer-upper when they haven’t finished fixing up their other fixer-upper?
Well, obviously WE do. In fact, if you’ve been paying attention, we’ve already done it 4 times, making this time number 5.
And before you ask if we’ve made any progress on our other house yet, ask yourself this: Do you think I would not have blogged ENDLESSLY about each and every little aspect of any single task we might have completed?
In fact, the only “work” that got done on our current house since November was on the stairs that allow you to walk from the kitchen/dining area to the living room, and vice versa. Everything else was put on hold the minute the outdoor temperature fell below 50 degrees and made it impossible for the Jarhead to operate his power tools out of doors.
That said, they are pretty nice little stairs. Especially compared to the construction stairs we used from fall 2019 until fall of 2022.
But back to the new den. Built circa 1898, the new place is technically a Folk Victorian. Which means it offers a lot of the features and charm of a Queen Anne or an Italianate Victorian, but on a much smaller scale. In other words, it’s Victorian light.
So it has beautiful stamped hardware on the doors, which was painted over several times over the past 125 years. And a parlor with two pocket doors surrounded by rather ornate, 6-inch wide trim, which have also been painted several times over the past 125 years. And a fancy carved front door, which—you guessed it—has been painted over several times over the past 125 years.
It also had 9-foot ceilings, towering 6-foot windows, and plaster and lathing walls that had been papered over several times in the style of the day. And then came the paneling. And the drop ceiling. And smoke damage. And nicotine stains. And God-only-knows-what was on that floor.
Our mission, and we chose to accept it, was to fix this beautiful disaster. One stamped hinge, lock, and doorknob at a time.
While the Jarhead ripped out carpeting and ceiling tiles, and cooked and scrubbed hardware, and turned the two room attic into 2 bedrooms and a half bath, I cleaned, and made oil-based primer my best friend. And then I painted, and painted, and painted…
Here are some highlights.
So I guess we didn’t really hibernate. It just felt like it because we never saw the sun.
Thank goodness spring is coming.
That is, if winter will ever die.