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The spirit of spring is calling

Detroit Lakes Newspapers columnist Lynn Hummel recently published his fourth book, "The Last Word," a collection of some of his favorite columns from the past 40 years.

Spring has nothing to do with the calendar. So, when you turned the page to March 20, indicating the first day of spring, it meant nothing. The reason is that spring is like Rip Van Winkle and sometimes it takes long naps, and hopefully, it has no idea what it missed while it was sleeping.

This year was one of those years. On March 20, spring was sound asleep and not stirring in the slightest. After that date there were cold spells, snow storms and winter blusters.

A month later, like a bear, spring started to slowly emerge from its hibernation. Even though the ice on the lake is reported to still be two feet thick (I don't believe it) this spring, the Spirit of Spring — is stretching and awakening.

I heard an excited gardener report the other day that the first crocus of the year was pushing its way up through the warm earth right beside a snowbank. Sometimes these brave little pioneers are called "snow crocuses." You have to cheer for their optimism, just as you need to salute the spirit of the first tulip to push through.

That warmth, fostered by the longer hours of sunshine, stirs the juices of nature's little creatures and brings them out of their naps. Yes, the earth is awakening again.

We've been hearing the honking of Canada geese for quite awhile now, flying around looking for open water but landing with frustration on the ice. But they wear goose down snuggies, so they can handle the cold days of early spring. With that goose down insulation I can't understand why they migrate at all. Are geese chickens?

But now when we go out in the morning, we hear the happy songs of robins. Their singing is so cheerful. I wonder — do robins ever get grumpy or pessimistic? And this morning I heard the first coos of a nearby mourning dove — a beautiful song. I doubt that even mourning doves ever mourn or get sad.

Kids can feel the change. They go zipping by on skates and skateboards in their t-shirts and shorts. They don't notice that there is still a chill out there. The topsoil may be warming up, but the breezes blowing across the remaining ice and snowbanks give no hint of summer.

We know from the example of a 16-year-old boy that the seasonal stirring is happening. After a Rip Van Winkle winter, he has decided to initiate a prom date. Nature is calling. As the packs of young adults pass by on the streets walking, jogging and biking, there is a reawakening of interest in the opposite sex.

Spring stirs the owners of old bones as well. Some of them need canes, walkers and wheelchairs, but they feel the call and can't stay inside. Some are seen scratching with rakes and probing with hoes following the impulses of centuries and responding to the seasons. It's a call, one more opportunity of a spin around the circle of life. This is the Spirit of Spring with its irresistible pull to the out of doors. It's the season of renewed optimism and hope.

Order Lynn Hummel's new book, The Last Word (171 articles, 310 pages) by sending $15 plus $3 postage ($10 plus postage for additional books) to Pony Express Books, 1948 Long Bridge Road, Detroit Lakes, MN 56501, or order at: