This is a crocus.

The fact that a crocus is currently blooming in my garden is about the only reason that you are getting a blog post, instead of reading about my bizarre multi-state rampage on the evening news. Winter has been long and grueling here. (And no, it does no good to say “We have eight feet of snow on the ground.” Mom. If you choose to live in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, these things are to be expected. When one lives in the Southeast, it is otherwise. I live down here because I would die of winter farther north, and when I am deprived of the spring that should, by rights and historical record, be here, I pine. And whine. Mostly whine.)

There are also honeybees as harbingers of spring roaming the damp bits of mulch, licking off minerals or salt or whatever attracts bees. They come from my neighbor’s beehive, and while I am glad of them for my vegetable garden, I cannot help but realize that both the crocus and the honeybees are Not From Around Here. They, like many non-natives, awaken earlier, in response to some other, remembered season. The Japanese honeysuckle is out and about and has been for weeks. But where are my native harbingers? There are basal rosettes on many plants, there are glossy toothwort leaves and heavy buds on the yellowroot, but no bloodroot, no trout lily, no trillium.

Where are the spring ephemerals?

Where is a sign of spring from the natives, who might presumably know what’s up?

So I wandered my garden, hoping for a sign, a harbinger of spring. No plants coming up. Nobody leafing out, except the elderberry and elderberries are idiots.

And then, at last, when I’d nearly given up…


This is an Eastern Comma. Probably. (Could be a Question Mark, but our local Question Marks are usually bigger and tend to have dark violet-brown lower wings.) He or she is awake and alert and zipping around–the first butterfly I’ve seen this season. And he’s a local. And he’s a harbinger of spring.

It has been a long and awful winter here, but it will be over soon. Nature–and butterflies–willing.

© 2014, Ursula Vernon. All rights reserved. This article is the property of BeautifulWildlifeGarden.com We have received many requests to reprint our work. Our policy is that you are free to use a short excerpt which must give proper credit to the author, and must include a link back to the original post on our site. Please use the contact form above if you have any questions.

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  1. Barb Mrgich says

    Great post, Ursula. I just love your attitude! When we are feeling whinny, nobody wants to hear about someone who has it worse! That just ruins the fun of whining! My yard is still a blanket of snow, but all the gardens have melted off. Could it be the compost? When the snow receded far enough, there were my little snowdrops, looking a bit piqued, but blooming. After two days, they are looking greener! Amazing! More snow expected Wednesday and Thursday!


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