With the only patch of open water in the area being next to our house, we were privy to some early visitors as the winter seemed to drag on. First the geese showed up, then the ducks, herons, and soon after the raptors. The ravine beneath us swelled in the flood waters and became a thoroughfare for muskrat, beavers, and otters.
I found my first snake of the year during a surprisingly warm day, on the first snowless patch of forest. That same day I spied frogs peering back at me from the silty bottoms of seasonal creeks. Wintergreen berries revealed themselves on the rocky floor like red beacons of spring, sweetened by the harsh cold.
The sun on our faces and wind at our back (and fronts, and sides) was glorious as we paddled across the lake for the first time. We delighted in smashing the ice as we went by it, as if to get a final cheap shot in on the last of this year's long, long winter.