It Ain’t Over ‘Til the Magpie Sings

Photo: Eric Weiss

Photo: Eric Weiss

We’ve had more than our fair share of beautiful warm winter days this year. Though we’ve had some very cold nights, the days have been sunny, and we’ve gotten only a fraction of the rain we normally do over winter.

So you could have been forgiven for thinking, back in July, that winter was over. In fact, my daughter argued that it was spring a month ago.

I knew better. Winter would assert itself again.

It did so this past weekend, with icy winds bringing sleet, snow and rain. We huddled by the fire, venturing outdoors only to take extra food to the animals and split more firewood.

But in between icy squalls, at 4:00 am two days ago, I heard it—the certain sign that winter is on its way out.

A magpie.

Magpies are noisy all year long, but when spring is almost upon us, their noise changes. They start their wardle-oodle-ardling at four in the morning, and carry on until the sun rises. They feel what we know only because of the calendar—spring is just around the corner.

When the magpies start calling, I get restless. I wake when they do, and their call urges me out of bed.

Wardle-oodle-ardle!

Get up! Get up! Get ready!

            But it’s dark and raining!

Wardle-oodle-ardle!

Get up! Get up! Get ready!

            But it’s cold! Can’t I stay in bed?

Wardle-oodle-ardle!

Get up! Get up! Get ready!

Wardle-oodle-ardle!

Get up! Get up! Get ready!

Spring is coming!

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