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The birds that have frequented my feeders in past years have begun returning; this also includes blackbirds, which are not exactly my favorites. For some reason I don’t feel as much animosity towards them as in past years. Maybe it’s because the return of these birds means that spring is here to stay. It’s funny how my robin sighting a couple of weeks ago didn’t seem to get me as excited about spring the blackbirds did. The finches, nuthatches, chickadees, sparrows and cardinals, some of which have been doing so all winter, are also frequenting my feeders. I had purchased a squirrel-proof feeder last week, which provided me with some enjoyable entertainment due to the fact the squirrels that had been emptying my feeders are now mystified when they jump on the new feeder and it drops down just enough to close the opening. One particular squirrel would sit on top of the Shepard’s hook, paw at the feeder and continue to stare at it; I am sure in an attempt to decipher what the heck is going on.

I’ve noticed quite a few muskrats that have become roadkill on some of our area streets in the past few days. This reminds me of a spring when we had a few years back when those little rodents were running amuck on the streets close to the channel and Albert Lea Lake. In looking back to my teenage days I can remember a time when myself and a friend named Bobby Carroll were driving through the neighborhood in the Johnson Street area when we spotted a muskrat on someone’s front yard. Bobby told me to stop the car because he thought it would be fun to chase the little rodent. He did indeed chase it right up to someone’s front steps, but then the tide turned. When it reached the steps it turned, bared its teeth and started towards Bobby, who in turn did an about-face and came running to the car with the little critter in hot pursuit. It is kind of ironic how messing with a seemingly harmless little critter could eventually come back to bite you.

I still haven’t made this year’s maiden voyage to the cabin, but next week should be the one, come rain or shine. Speaking of that, the cloudy, wet weather we seem destined to endure has put a little damper on my enthusiasm. I’m sure that once I am on the road the adrenaline will start flowing and the anticipation of what lies ahead will take over.

I always look forward to spending time in the north woods; especially in early spring when the wildlife is active and welcoming the beginning of a new season. There are many critters to be seen right around our cabin; some you just hear and some leave but a trace of their visit. I will not be as bold this year as to leave the feeders out overnight in early spring. Last year taught me a lesson when a bear visited and ran off with my new feeder. A couple of years ago I had squirrel and raccoon-proofed the bird feeders so that neither one could gain access to them. This worked quite well until last year when a bear visited; it was tall enough to reach all of the feeders, tore all of them down and ran off with my newest one. I never did find that feeder, but I am sure that it would not have been in useable condition if I had found it.

Spring is a great time of year; it is a time when we, like hibernating critters, can peer our heads out of our winter hiding places and welcome the onset of a new season. To me, spring means a fresh start to the summer season, with budding trees and flowers just beginning to push their way through the now unfrozen soil. Yes, the streams are flowing, the lakes have plenty of water and all things are good.

When I think back to past years I can remember the times when my grandsons would go with us to my wife’s home place where the creek was high and brimming with carp working their way to someplace unknown. I started those kids off fishing in the creek with hook and line. Now say what you will about carp, but once you’ve had one on the end of your line in a fast-moving current, you will learn to respect the power of that fish. This went on for a few years until one of the boys found a spear in the garage, then it turned; the sport eventually graduated to bow fishing, which is what they do today. This left me (old school) trying to convince them that the real sport was still hook and line, but bow and arrow was what they wanted to do and what they enjoyed.

Although the boys have found a new way to enjoy fishing for carp, the bottom line is this: they are outdoors and enjoying nature. In these times of gadgets and apps., it is refreshing to see kids (young adults) who don’t mind getting a little muddy and dirty while enjoying the outdoors and their sport of choice.

Until next time: The weather is gradually getting more spring-like as the temperatures are slowly inching upwards. It should be a good time to wet a line with the lakes pretty much ice free.

Please take some time to honor those who have sacrificed so much for the freedoms that we enjoy today, also take a little extra time to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice, those who served and those troops that are serving today.

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