Why Spring in Canada is the Best Season for Nature Lovers

One Harley, Ont., resident captures the beauty of springtime in all its glory. Prepare to be thrilled by some amazing photographs and prose.

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Spring is a nature lover's paradise
Photo: Corneil Byl

A Nature Lover’s Paradise

With a yawn, I stretch my limbs on the threshold of our wide-open front door. A chorus of chirps, twitters, shrills and warbles washes over me in crystal-clear acoustic quality. The sonorous bombinating of a bumblebee reaches my ears from a nearby flower garden. Ah, spring. You can feel it down to your toes. You can taste it in the air you breathe. The whole world is waking and flourishing. Who wouldn’t wonder at the miracle of this incredible season? Dead come back to life; birds and bugs, nonexistent during the preceding four months, suddenly materialize and thrive. Wildflowers burst from fields of green, saturating the landscape with iridescent hues. A warmish breeze wafts up my nostrils and I’m exhilarated as I step out and begin my quest to get up close and personal with this exciting new world.

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Insect on green leaf
Photo: Corneil Byl

Where I am from—in southern Ontario—it is typical for us to experience both ends of the spectrum when it comes to seasonal weather. Terms such as “polar vortex,” “icy conditions” and “reduced visibility” commonly travel the frigid airwaves to our radios in the dead of winter, while words such as “heat dome,” “blistering temperatures” and “humidity” ripple through the thick haze in summer.

Today, however, immersed in this comfortable air temperature and lovely scenery, I am again reminded why the transition seasons tend to be my best-loved. With their winds of change and unique beauty, they provide ripe opportunities to feed my photography bug.

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Insect with yellow flowers
Photo: Corneil Byl

I don’t have to go far. There is plenty of spring in my own backyard. Birds flit from branches to bushes and back again. In our gardens, pink, orange and red blossoms wave in the gentle breeze. A movement and a fluttering noise draw my attention, and in a blur I catch sight of an unfortunate worm dangling from the side of a robin’s beak before the bird dives into a nearby evergreen. A few seconds pass and the mother darts off again in pursuit of new snacks. Cautiously, I approach the tree and crane my neck to try and spot the nest.

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Purple wildflowers in garden
Photo: Corneil Byl

The tangy but not unpleasant scent of hedge cedar tingles my nose as my head bobs up and down in search of the elusive nest. Then, suddenly, there it is, in a soft pool of light—a small grass bowl nestled expertly in the branches and filled with two tiny bodies blanketed in fuzzy down. The baby birds, sensing my presence, crane their necks weakly, raising their yawning mouths towards me. Needy peeps emit from their tiny frames. So helpless, so vulnerable, so fragile—like the bright-blue eggs they came from. I nearly forget there is a camera in my hand as I cannot help but feel as though I might sever this delicate balance of life in front of me if I make another move. Eventually, their tottering heads are too heavy to hold high and they collapse clumsily back into the nest. Slowly, almost respectfully, I raise the viewfinder to my eye. Click. Quietly I step backwards to leave the nestlings’ sanctuary in peace, pausing only to offer an apology for dashing their eager hopes of getting a tasty tidbit.

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Perennial flower
Photo: Corneil Byl

I catch some movement in my peripheral vision that diverts my attention to a little yellow beetle fighting to climb over a chip of bark mulch near my feet. I crouch down to get a closer look. Six tiny legs paddle vigorously while two long, segmented antennae feel busily about in front. What kinds of lives do these mini marvels of creation lead? It suddenly dawns on me that as I live my life from day to day, there is a whole world going on under my very nose without my awareness or one iota of my control. Humbling. Awesome. My imagination begins to whir. Where is this little guy heading right now as he barely hurdles the obstacle in front of him? How does he view this new world of his? Everything would seem so big and impressive. Ordinary garden flowers would tower high above him with massive stems of green ending in broad canopies of dazzling colour. A gentle spring rain would come splashing down from the sky as jumbo water bombs, pounding the ground and rattling his podomeres. As I muse, the beetle clambers up the stalk of a verdant perennial, tightropes across a leaf stem and stops short at the end of the leaf. Resting briefly to survey the surroundings, he lifts a forearm and draws it through his mandibles, reminiscent of a kitten licking its paws. If by chance he were to turn his gaze just now, he would doubtless be greeted with a distorted reflection of himself in a massive disc of engineered glass. Click.

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Baby chickadee bird
Photo: Corneil Byl

A rush passes through my veins. There is something truly exhilarating and sublime when, camera in hand, nature gives you an exclusive, serendipitous and often fleeting moment to capture. Like that moment when you are framing a shock of purple wildflowers and a European skipper butterfly noiselessly flutters in and alights perfectly on one of the petals. Click. Or that moment when as you are following a foraging locust borer beetle oblivious to your presence, it stops for a drink of nectar from a flowering weed. Click. Or that moment when an adventurous baby chick who is sprinting through your lawn grass allows you to move in close with your lens. Click. Joy. Elation. Upon reflection, I begin to comprehend that perhaps this season itself, when experienced up close, is an embodiment of these feelings and sentiments. Invigorating. Sublime. Transient.

I clip the cover back onto my lens. With a spring in my step, I head back to the house for my late morning tea.

Originally Published in Our Canada

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