Some people might curse the little devils and cringe at their arrival.
But I prefer to look on the bright side and note that the first bites from the mini-monsters also signal the coming of merrier miracles of May.
Morels, for example!
OK, so some of you probably found your first tasty mushrooms in April. But it’s usually May before morel season hits its peak.
Fresh morels are a good excuse to put chicken on the grill, pick some asparagus, and round out the meal with fresh lettuce from the garden. You eat while sitting at the picnic table to enjoy the smell of the crab apple blossoms and hear the buzzing of bees nectaring among the fragrant flowers.
Ah, the flowers! To be sure, hepaticas and bloodroots and rue anemones and Dutchman’s breeches brightened the otherwise brown forest floor in April – or even late March. Now, the bright-yellow buttercups and lavender Sweet Williams and pink wild geraniums sometimes struggle for attention in the sea of green that carpets the woods.
The prairie blooms later. But our April burn removed the duff and darkened the ground enough to speed the warm-up – and trigger the golden Alexander to bravely poke up its aptly-named flower.
A hen turkey also welcomed the burn, where it had become easier to find meals of insects. Perhaps she was scouting for places to bring her poults, which should be hatching soon.
May migrants celebrate the bird world’s seasonal joy. Rose-breasted grosbeaks warble all day. House wrens jabber from a brush pile.
Baltimore orioles snack on our grape jelly offerings. We heard the scarlet tanager’s distinctive, sore-throat song, but could not locate the songster in the rapidly greening woods. The flitting redstarts were more cooperated, and danced through the treetops only a few yards away.
A rare whip-poor-will emphatically announced its presence at dusk. Will the bird nest, or is it only passing through?
No doubt about the resident bluebirds, which already have nested – successfully! A quick peek in the nest box reveals one fuzzy nestling beside yet-to-hatch blue eggs.
The robin and phoebe – acclimated to human comings and goings – each have set up housekeeping under the eaves of the house, right near the front door. They’ll soon be feeding their broods – and gobbling up insects and worms.
We hope the luna moth, which hovered after dark near the light from our window, is too big for most birds to attack, however.
Yes, a luna is green – and GREEN is the color that almost defines May. On an otherwise gray and drizzly day, the fresh, bright green of new leaves on the maples, oaks, basswoods, and boxelder almost glow with life. Walnuts are slower to leaf out – but even their tiny, unfurling leaflets shout SPRING!
Ah, May! Can we handle the sensory overload?