20 Mar Goodbye winter, hello spring
Story and photos
by Linda Henderson
Goodbye, winter! Gone are your bitter winds and your chances for ice and snow. It is time again for Arkansas to wake up from her winter hibernation. Spring starts the beginning of warmer weather, longer daylight hours, the blooming of flowers and the budding of leaves.
Soon the 501 will show the visible signs that spring has arrived. One of the first signs I always notice are mornings filled with the sounds of returning song birds. In my backyard, small buds from the forsythia bush will open with sunny, yellow blooms, and then lime green leaves will appear. Dogwoods and redbud blooms will adorn what were barren tree branches. As spring arrives, tulip trees bloom, and magnificent pink color shine against the blue spring sky.
As cold weather disappears, spring rains will start to fall from the sky. The smell of fresh spring rains will fill the atmosphere. Chances of rainbows will increase as weather fronts move from west to east. Spring thunderstorms will roll in and out with booming thunder and lightning. Fog and mist will be abundant due to the ground temperature, and air temperatures are likely to be quite a bit different in the early morning and late evening.
Spring nights will start to be filled with the sounds of croaking frogs. Ponds and creeks will be filled with tadpoles and other amphibians. As the temperature reaches 60 degrees, snakes and bugs will be found again in woodlands and waterways.
Meadows and fields will be filled with wildflowers. Roadsides will be decorated with red clover. Gardens will be ablaze with vivid colors of spring flowers. Tulip and daffodil bulbs planted in the fall will burst out of the ground. They will decorate the 501 with their rainbow of colors. Azaleas and camellias will decorate homes and yards with bright fuchsia and soft pinks.
As the flowers become more abundant, so will the butterflies and bees. In the spring, as the temperature climbs, butterflies will begin their annual transcontinental trip north. Many will stop along the way to lay eggs and feed on blooming flower nectar. Honeybees and bumblebees will start their important job of pollinating all sorts of blooming vegetation.
The smell of tilled earth and cut grass will perfume the air. Gardens will be planted with early varieties of lettuce, cabbage and onions. Organic farmers will be gathering last year’s leaves and work them into the soil.
Spring is the perfect time for capturing the beauty of the season with a camera. Everywhere you look, there is a picture. It is the perfect time for both the novice photographer and the seasoned professional to snap a few frames.
For the beginning enthusiast, there are a few things you can do to improve your chances of getting a masterpiece or at least a good photo to remember a special day. I know I keep saying this, but the most important thing is getting your subject in the very best light you can. When shooting nature, the early morning and the late evening will always yield the best results.
These days, cameras are all so good. Many are just small computers, and if you know a few techniques you will get a good picture. Find a good foreground for a big vista shot. Foregrounds can be a particularly interesting tree, flower, barn or old building. Frame the picture with something in the scene to draw your attention.
Many people will want to turn their camera to flowers during the spring. They are definitely the spring attention getters. But don’t forget about a grove of newly leafed trees with sunlight streaming down. Use the macro or flower setting on your point and shoot camera. If you have a DSLR, put your camera on a tripod. Move in as close as your lens will focus and shoot stopped down (high f-stop number like 14 to 22). This will give you lots of detail but require a longer shutter speed. Get low and point your camera up to include the sky.
Take advantage of the longer days by getting sunset pictures. The air is still humidity-free, and usually during the spring there will be lots of puffy white clouds to give interest to the sky. Stay around after the sun goes down. Spring’s fluffy clouds will also reflect sunlight after the sun has gone down and will provide beautiful ribbons of pinks, oranges and purples in the sky low on the horizon.
An Arkansas spring is a celebration of beauty and nature. As the sunlight becomes more prevalent and things become green and lush, get out and enjoy springtime in the 501!