By MIKE CORN
Never mind what Punxsutawney Phil, the calendar or those pesky weathermen have to say, spring is just around the corner.
That's not wishful thinking. I have proof. And to be honest with you, as someone who typically delights in the arrival of winter, its cold weather and opportunities for snow, I'm ready.
Of course, a convergence of several issues, a perfect storm, if you will -- a term I hate almost as much as describing something as a win-win situation -- might be responsible for my outlook.
However, I think not.
To put it simply, I've had cabin fever for months now. I've missed the flowers, the birds and the critters roaming the countryside in search of food and love.
Just this week, it became abundantly apparent that spring is around the corner. Dare I say winter is on its last legs?
So what, you might ask, has prompted me to believe so strongly that winter is losing its grip, more so than me. While I agree that I've questioned my sanity this winter more than normal, you just can't argue with fact.
Monday, for example, I rushed to Cedar Bluff Reservoir.
Arriving home for lunch, I saw birds flittering about in the yard. Turns out they were robins. Several of them.
I saw one more at Cedar Bluff as I drove the shoreline looking for most anything exciting.
I also simply was delighted in the pair of mature bald eagles majestically scanning the horizon at Cedar Bluff. I was able to get a few lousy photographs, but it simply wasn't as delightful as a bald eagle spotted north of Abilene a while back, not 30 feet from the highway.
I was unarmed then, only my iPhone as a camera. I'm confident it wouldn't have stood still for me, although I was tempted.
But back to winter.
That same evening as the robins, sandhill cranes were flying north.
While I never could find them in the sky, I could hear them. Their bugling calls brightening the sky and my outlook.
The crowning glory, for me at least, came from a birdwatcher somewhere east of here. It didn't matter. It was the message they passed along.
A turkey vulture was back in Kansas.
Yes, it's the ugliest bird around, but they are almost magical to watch as they soar on thermals and use their keen sense of smell to find carrion. They are the ultimate in recycling.
While I'm sure to get some grief on taking delight in turkey vulture watching, I can stand it.
Ironically, I'm continually quizzed about my fascination with rattlesnakes, never mind the fact that I don't like snakes at all. They're just cool.
* * *
Speaking of snakes, I just have to make mention of the good folks who live in rural Ellis County, one of whom mentioned my seeming fascination with snakes as he offered help as I struggled to change a flat tire.
Even though the temperature Wednesday morning stood at 4 below zero -- warming greatly from the overnight low of 7 below -- several people still stopped to offer assistance.
Although I certainly wasn't dressed for the task, it was more a struggle with rarely used equipment.
To each one of you, thanks. I appreciate it more than you might think.