Often, as I wander, I’ll hear a ruffed grouse slowly begin the tell tale beating of wings on the ground, like a strong pulsing heartbeat. Occasionally, if I’m not paying strict attention, I wonder if it’s mine, and am brought back to my surroundings as the heartbeats slowly speed up, faster than my heart ever beats. It’s this heartbeat of the land, that pulses so deeply in my own veins that I can’t immediately tell the difference between the two, which fascinates and inspires me. I notice trout lilies pushing up through the heavy litter of last fall and cringe inwardly. If the trout lilies are up, so are the blackflies. Sure enough, as the maple buds push out lacy pale chartreuse leaves, the blackflies emerge. They don’t start biting for a couple days, but when they do, being out of doors on the northwest side of town will be more than unpleasant. The sun shines down lazily. This far north, there’s no real menace to the sun’s rays, and we all soak it up, sighing relief after the winter that just didn’t want to give up this year. Slender pungent winooski reach for the pale dappled sunlight making its way through new maple leaves. These are the wild allium that seasoned the natives’ first meals after a long winter. A hairy woodpecker slowly echoes the heartbeat of the grouse, searching for bugs in a tall beech. Spring is here.