But down here in North Florida…. ah…. that's another, much more encouraging story.
Personally, I didn't even know what a groundhog was until I went driving around on the back roads in the northeast one spring. Groundhogs have many admirable qualities, but grace and speed are not among them, and we were highly entertained by their efforts to get off the pavement as we would round a corner and approach them.
Down here in northern Florida, deciding when it's finally spring is a matter of waiting for the last freeze. After a week of cloudy, rainy, 40ish weather, it's warming up, and the brave are putting the plants they brought in back outside, hopefully for good. The signs that spring are on the way are subtle, but they're there if you look for them.
The first thing that starts growing down here is the ground cover. A bright green fuzz of clover and other ground cover plants sprout up in open areas – you have to be careful driving at night this time of year because the deer come out of the woods and graze the new growth on the road shoulders after dusk and before dawn. They're just a briefly glimpsed blur as you drive along, and most of them don't even look up as you pass.
Here's a look at a few tiny flowers emerging in this ground cover around the house where I am driveway camping. The purplish thing is something in the oxalis family, probably non-native but still all over the place here. The yellow looks like a dandelion, but i think it's more of a thistle family thing. The real dandelions aren't out yet.
And the azaleas are showing definite signs of their coming display- the yellowish, oblong terminal buds are clearly visible if you look in the nondescript green foliage. In a few weeks the azaleas and dogwoods and redbuds will all be out, and you won't have to go poking around looking for signs of spring – they'll be on full display.
Two years ago I followed the redbuds north. they were out here when I left in February, and blooming again in the Texas hill country later in February/early March, and then I saw them blooming again when I got out to New Mexico in April. We had redbuds for two or three months because of our strategy of following spring north and uphill.
Here's hoping that you'll see a few signs of spring in your neck of the woods – soon, hopefully. Spring is a sign to me that it's time to hit the road again for my annual migration north and west, leaving Florida until the following winter. The flowers arestarting to come out around me as I sit here, I'm itching to get back on that long trail.