Squirrel picnic - photo by Jeannette Brodeur.
Squirrel picnic - photo by Jeannette Brodeur.

“Spring has sprung, the grass is riz, I wonder where the boidies is.” My mother used to recite this silly, little rhyme when I was a child and spring had arrived.
Well, I know where those boidies (birds) are…they are in my yard! We have packs of cardinals, blue jays, black-capped chickadees, sparrows and I’ve even seen the elusive red-headed woodpecker in our yard. According to the state Department of Energy & Environmental Protection, the red-headed woodpecker is endangered and one of the rarest breeding birds in Connecticut. And I’m not sure, but I think there’s even an owl I spotted in one of the trees in the back of the yard.
And squirrels. We have A LOT of squirrels here. And with all of these squirrels, especially during the winter, I just couldn’t help myself. I bought…a squirrel picnic table! See photo. So, it’s this feeder that looks like a little picnic table and when you put an ear of dried corn on the screw in the center of the table, squirrels come and sit to eat the corn and look like they’re having a picnic. They’re not expensive. If you’re handy, you can even build one yourself. My husband made fun of me for buying this silly feeder, but we have all spent many a morning in our kitchen watching the squirrels sit at their picnic table having a nosh.
We have less than a week to go until the first official day of spring this year (Saturday, March 20), but I am already seeing even more signs of the changing seasons here at Highland Lake.
This week, my son Aaron and I didn’t even need our jackets for our daily walk at the lake. Wasn’t it just a few weeks ago when we had sub-zero temperatures and we had to wear our heavy coats, hats, scarves, and gloves?
The ice is melting all around the edges of the lake. You can hear the water gurgling down across the rocks perched beside the lake. The large groups of folks ice fishing just a week ago have packed up their brightly colored shelters and gone home.
Now I notice more and more new groups of folks out walking at the lake each day and more cars (many with out-of-state license plates) driving around the lake too. And some of those drivers are sure in a hurry! Slow down, people! Many families are taking their dogs out for a walk now too. And the dogs look very happy.
It seems as though our dog Nelson, who turns 14 next month, has also come out of hibernation. When it’s very cold and/or rainy out, he hangs his head a bit and gives us his most pitiful face if we make him go outside.
But now with the warmer weather, Nelson has a “spring” in his step, even at his advanced age. He enjoys walking around the yard and sniffing every bush, every tree, and every leaf still left on the ground from the fall. I’ve tried taking him on walks at the lake, but he doesn’t want to venture too far. For now, he’s content to just sit in the sun in the yard, guarding his kingdom.
Another sure sign of spring around here? Dairy Queen is now open! Hurrah! Decisions, decisions…do I want a Peanut Buster Parfait, the Blizzard of the Week or a cone of soft-serve chocolate dipped in cherry? It’s dangerous to have a Dairy Queen so close by! And now I can’t even use the kids as an excuse to go there since they are all adults.
My husband’s favorite warm-weather pastime? Going to the dump almost every Saturday! Boy, the dump here is BIG! That was one of the first things Todd did when we moved here…he got the dump sticker for the truck. Now he just has to root around the yard and the garage to find things to bring to the dump. He always finds something.
Well, even as we all start putting away our sweaters and heavy coats with these warmer days, don’t think that the cold weather is completely gone. I mean this is New England, where it can snow one day and be 70 degrees the next. I can remember it snowing even in April. I think there are colder temperatures predicted again this week. Do you think the folks who ice fish will come back or are they already getting their jet skis tuned up for the summer? Either way, I’m ready to enjoy the warmer weather soon here at the lake.

Jeannette Brodeur has been a journalist for more than 30 years and wrote a human interest column for the New Jersey Herald, the Naugatuck Daily News and the Citizen’s News for many years. She and her husband Todd have three adult children: Harley, Aaron and Jillian, as well as an aging rescue dog named Nelson and two rescue cats named Reeses (like the candy) and Clarence (like the angel in “It’s a Wonderful Life”). They live on Highland Lake in Winchester/Winsted.