Spring Comes to Conner Prairie
Spring arrives at Conner Prairie in spurts. One day the sky is impossibly blue and the sun is shining. The next week it storms and the sleet hits my face. Two weeks after the big snow storm I stepped outside the front door of Facilities and saw 125 sandhill cranes overhead flying north. I knew it was time to start watching for signs of spring.
I go looking for green, but don’t find anything but a few tiny shoots of grass. It’s still winter, but the sun is tempting me to not wear a hat, at least for a few minutes. I see and hear the cardinals, tufted titmouse, and other birds singing. They are showing off their brilliant colors with their mating plumage.
In the evenings, when the deer come out to graze, it is getting harder to tell the mature does from last year’s fawns. I look closely, and wonder how much longer it will be until this year’s babies appear.
The farmer plows the corn maze and I can smell the heavenly scent of petrichor. It’s that scent that the ground emanates after a spring rain, but the turning of the dark brown earth by the plow has released it to waft across the prairie. I find myself sitting and watching the tractor as the dark swath gets wider and wider. I’m tempted to go pick up a chunk of soil and test its consistency for planting. I’ve always been a country girl at heart.
This is the day that I walk across the mostly dead grass and can smell the clover and fresh green shoots breaking through to reach up for the sun. The calendar says spring is still days away, but in my heart, I know it’s just around the corner.
The wind that blows across my cheeks turns from biting, to gentle. Even when it turns nasty again, like the day of the freezing rain, that only lasts for a day, not a week. The wind is always blowing. Some nights I hear it whistling through the trees and across the fences, other days it is a gentle caress that reminds me it is almost time to shed my winter work coat.
As spring inches closer and closer I end up eating my lunch on the front steps of the building instead of in the break room. I don’t want to give up even ten minutes of this glorious weather.
There are other signs of spring across the grounds. My extra projects move from indoors to outdoors. The maintenance and grounds guys aren’t wearing coveralls all day every day. The first spring lambs arrive. The trees begin to bud.
It rains and it pours, and I am alright with that. It makes for some spectacular sunsets when the clouds break during the last hours of daylight. When I’m on my lunchtime walks, I’m tempted to stray to the edge of the path and look for wildflowers. And then one day, I find them. Spring has officially arrived!
The grass looks like a blanket of green velvet as it follows the rise and fall of the symphony hill. The wind blows strong, but warm across my face as I sit on the front steps of the Facilities building. Even though I’m wearing hiking boots, I feel like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz. I think “There’s no place like home. There’s no place like home.” It’s spring at Conner Prairie and I’m already home.
About the Author
Carol Emmert can be found walking the Conner Prairie grounds daily. She serves in our Facilities department as the Custodial Team Lead. You could find her cleaning, offering directions to guests, or pausing to appreciate a wildflower. Her favorite place on the grounds is “anywhere she can catch a glimpse of the sunset”.