It came at me softly this morning – a light breeze from over the mountains. It was not veiled in bitter cold as has been these winter months, but rather warm and light like a silk scarf. I knew then that the unfolding of spring had begun. Sure, it is still early- only mid-February. Yet, that characteristic soft wind was unmistakable. Then, later in the morning, I heard a bird I had not heard all winter. Doors were being opened for more visitors to stay awhile. There was also a shift in the feel of the trees. They no longer seemed to stand dormant and lifeless, but rather awake and lifting their needles to a warmer sun.

Here up at the ranch, we revolve our lives around the seasons. Fall is for getting the cattle shipped and preparing equipment and the ranch facilities for winter. Winter is for keeping the herd well-fed and refining our horsemanship in the indoor arena. Spring is for branding new cattle, getting our guests horses legged up and irrigating the meadows for an abundant hay harvest. Summer is for moving and checking on cattle, teaching horsemanship and enjoying the company of our guests, and bringing in the hay that feeds our herd and our cattle in the late fall. It is a cycle that is like the back of our hand. We know it well. Yet, each season always has its share of surprises – rain in January, snow in July, hot sun in October and pure blue sky in April.

To me, each season has its own signature. Summer comes on strong and courts your heart with seemingly endless days of fun and games to be played until late into the night. There is no shortage of activity from the ground, the waters nor the sky. Spring gently moves in with warmer days and softer winds and then in a flash the meadows turn a blinding, brilliant green that you wish you could re-create and paint on your walls for the grey days of winter.

Fall has a characteristic scent of life receding into the deep soil and a feel of angled sunlight that makes your skin crinkle. Winter, the longest of them all, rolls in sometimes with massive momentum and sometimes with building force. The scent is clean but the feel is cold and at times abrasive. The sound, well, the sound is silence. Miles of silence. Sometimes, I will pause and wait to hear something, anything in the winter. Sometimes I hear the wings of a bird, but other times I simply hear my own thoughts. I console myself with the remembrance of spring. And, now, here it is! The first hint of spring. I smile as I write this. Soon, spring will be here and the newness of life will once again find center stage.

P.S. I took a couple of pictures today of our pastures. In a few short months, these pastures will hold cattle as well as horses. I can almost see them now. I can’t wait!