And because of His glory and excellence, He has given us great and precious promises. (2 Peter 1:4)
There is something about the distant calling of crows on a windy March day that signals winter is coming to an end. It doesn't mean the cold and snow are over - there is usually more to come, even into April. But the crows aren't discouraged. They seem to sense the change. Blown about by the weather, they make the most of it, almost enjoying the wind, reveling in the possibilities, and the promise of spring.
Muskokans know many signs of spring. The fee-bee calls of chickadees on a sunny January day; a red squirrel sipping sap from a maple tree branch during a thaw in late February; the sudden appearance of chipmunks when the ground is still covered in snow. Because we're more northerly, the groundhog myth isn't authentic, and robins are not reliable, usually appearing after the fact. The bluebird was once considered a harbinger of spring, its soft warbling call heard along the farm fence rows when there were more of both bluebirds and farms. Now it is the honk of Canada geese overhead that breaks winter's relative silence.
Soon they are joined by the red-winged blackbirds shouting their loud 'conckaree' calls from the marshes throughout the day, followed by spring peepers calling all night long. Fat, football-shaped snipe make weird winnowing vibrations while flying above the same wetlands, while their cousins, the woodcock, twitter and peent nearby. The deer start wandering, released from their winter yards, searching for food in open fields, along roadsides and at backyard bird-feeders. All are signs of spring in Muskoka.
Why do we so desperately seek these signs of spring? We know it is coming - it's on the calendar. Why hurry winter? It has its own charm and beauty, with many unique outdoor opportunities. But the drudgery of clearing snow, of winter driving and winter clothing and winter heating does become a burden. We long for spring, or at least some sign of its imminent return, and the new life that will accompany spring's arrival.
Like the promise of spring, God gives us many promises to help us through each day. Even in those dreary seasons where hard days can stretch into weeks and months, and even years, perhaps seemingly without hope, His promises do not fail. Spring will come: 'God will make this happen, for He who calls you is faithful' (I Thess. 5:24).
And He encourages us in many ways, even with the cawing of crows in March.