It was a couple of weeks ago when I noticed the first change.  Snow, twice rain-saturated and twice re-frozen, still lay on the lower field.  All winter, small olive-gray birds with black wings would come to my feeder and eat.  But one Tuesday in March, one of these birds came to the feeder, and it looked blotchy. 
     It was a goldfinch, starting to molt.  Males shed their drab winter feathers as new bright feathers emerge.  Yellow flecks hint at the gold to come.  Molting is the great discombobulation that precedes the breathtaking elegance of a mature male in breeding plumage.  Right now, they look kind of goofy, but it is a sure sign of spring.  I know from past years that it seems like this transition happens in the blink of an eye.  I'm ready though; it's been a long winter.

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     All winter, my lanky fourteen year old boy would come home from cross-country ski practice and eat. A couple of weeks ago, when Andrew was just finished with ski season, he came home right after school and told me “I need some exercise.   I'm going out skiing.”  That old frozen snowpack still lay on our fields, but the temperature was near 40 degrees: the in-between season. 
     Andrew shed his winter school clothes, put on his athletic shorts and a jacket, snapped into his skis, and pushed off across the yard.  He flew down past the barn to the fields below.  Skate-skiing is like ice-skating; no track is needed.  It's just free-flowing push-glides that rocket you across a packed surface. It was a crazy, beautiful sight, this boy/man in shorts and skis, neither and both in this transition time.   I watched, our dog gleefully running along beside him, and as the afternoon sunlight mellowed the scene, I tried to memorize it.   I'm afraid to blink; I'm not ready for this molting to be complete.

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