Tap, tap. Tap, tap.
Winter spun around at the unexpected touch on his shoulder. He had been trying to push some trees over with his icy breath.
“Good morning. I told you I would return,” said a voice of silk.
“You can’t! It’s still March! I have lots of time. I am still strong enough to blow you from here to the Atlantic!”
Winter blew hard to prove his point. A sudden snow flurry obliterated the forest. The rocks peering through their unexpected white blanket resembled a Bev Doolittle painting.
“See?” Winter. “I still own this land and all the light-starved people in it.”
“Look over there,” she said. “My friends are on their way.”
Winter turned to see where Spring was pointing. The mountainside he had so proudly encased beneath a thick sheet of ice last December was beginning to sparkle. The hard shell still made it appear gray in the morning light, but when he looked closer, he saw what Spring already knew. There was a trickle of water under the glass, a thousand silent streams slipping over outcroppings and sliding under piles of stone. And the worst sight of all: at the bottom of the mountain was an open pool of water being fed by a trickle of ice melt. If this kept up, Spring would get an upper hand.
“NOOOOOO! There are days left yet! This is still ALLLLL MINE!” Winter jumped up and down like a child caught in a tantrum. Tree branches crashed to the ground with the thunder of his fury. A Red-tailed Hawk struggled in the wind, trying to gain altitude to reach his mate hanging in the sky above.
Spring swept her scarlet cape open and lifted her face to the sun. To Winter’s dismay, the drumming of a Pileated woodpecker sounded across the land. He heard the bird’s cry: kik kik kik kik kik kik! Fish crows cavorted, spinning and zipping through the tops of the blue spruce trees that lined the path, chasing each other, flying and spinning so fast it was hard to know who was chasing whom. A Red-bellied Woodpecker whirred overhead as it landed on the trunk of an old oak and started poking for insects.
Winter fell to his knees.
“I…am…not…done…yet….” he whispered.
“I am taking the land back,” announced Spring. “Look over there.”
Winter groaned and glanced up.
Above his head were a thousand gleaming black wings stippling the blue sky. Red-winged blackbirds had just landed in the bare branches of the forest, hungry and excited to return to their natal land.
“I arrived on a cardinal’s song in February,” Spring said. “Didn’t you hear them calling me, announcing my arrival with their “pretty pretty” song? They knew!”
Winter glowered and looked away. A brief shower of hail clattered around him.
Spring stepped aside. Under her feet were the purple snouts of a dozen crocuses nosing through the frozen ground, nonplussed by the sight of spent hailstones.
Winter gasped. A cold wind howled.
“I still have time,” he said.
Spring laughed. A rainbow shimmered above the clouds.
“If you must,” she smiled. “But I am right behind you.”
“I am Spring, and I am here!”