There seems in late spring to be an openness, a frankness, a guilelessness that is missing at other times of the year. I do not suppose that there is more to this than an impression. Life is never innocent.
But there is in spring the openness of the landscape itself. The trees, although green, are not yet in full leaf. One can still see sky through the canopy of a tree. In the grasslands, the vegetation has begun to green, the earliest of the flowers are in bloom, the insects are about, the spiders are at their webs, the music of the birds is in the air. Everywhere there is the motion of life as it has not been evident for months. But the grasses are just sprouting, even the fastest growing of the forbs is yet a diminutive thing. The dense thicket of prairie growth has not yet been formed in late spring. One can still see through the shoots of things to the surprisingly bare prairie floor.
Young birds are in the shell or on the nest or they are fledgling. Despite the cleverness with which they have been domiciled, the persistent wanderer cannot help but stumble upon them. The same is true for the young of the mammals. It takes time and attention to catch a fox in action at any other time of the year, but in spring, even a modestly observant dilettante can find the occupied den of one and stake it out. There is too much youthfulness about life in the spring to keep it long hidden.
Journal of a Prairie Year is now in reprint through Milkweed Editions and is available at their online store.