How do we mark the change of seasons? What turns winter into Spring? For a Carcross-Tagish First Nation Elder I worked with, the first sign of spring was the hardening of the snow in February. This change allowed everyone to travel. People could get back out on the land after three months of darkness and soft snow so deep it swallowed any attempt to go much further than the outhouse.
In Japan the blooming of the first cherry blossom marks the start of spring, but not just any cherry blossom. Last month Andrew and I visited the Yasakuni Shrine in Tokyo. This sometimes controversy-stirring Shinto shrine was established in 1869 to enshrine the souls of those died fighting for Japan. The cherry tree in the courtyard of the shrine is the site of official spring for Japan.
At our home in the Yukon we also look for a flower. My Manitoba roots tell me that the first sign of spring in the blooming of the crocus. Earth day saw the stems and fuzzy buds up but it was only the next day that the first flower cautiously opened to announce spring. And immediately the boreal pulse started, a wasp was in the blossom collecting nectar and pollen to urge on reproduction before the arrival of fall.