Our unique Spring wildlife pilgrimage…

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This Saturday, they’re expecting 40,000 people for the big parade in San Juan Capistrano, California – as they celebrate the annual return of the swallows to the Mission, after wintering 6,000-miles away in Argentina.

The legendary Swallows of Capistrano and their annual pilgrimage…

…For a century or more – a human tourist pilgrimage, as well.

But you know, there’s another wildlife pilgrimage – quite similar, though not as well attended – that occurs on our place ‘round this time every year; and honestly, it’s even more breathtaking…thanks to overpowering bouts of laughter.

You see, March on our property here in the Ozarks, brings its own Midwest brand of Springtime predicting wildlife. For example – I always know daylight savings time is right around the corner…not because of mass media reminders…but because of an unmistakable squeak I always here the week prior. At first, I was sure I had a mice in the attic, but it would’ve had to have been 18 generations of mice all fighting over a single nest in the insulation. So that first year, I tracked the noise to one of the gable-vents on the side of the house…and there I found, clinging to the screen between the attic and the vent slats – at least 25 BATS – all squeaking-away at the height of the day, crawling all over each other, waiting for dusk to arrive.

It’s an impressive sight…unless you’re my wife. She’s really never been that impressed – even knowing the fortune we could make from eyeliner manufacturers with the amount of guano that’s accumulated in the vent. And now that she’s aware of that ingredient (guanine) – I think she’s even less impressed by the annual…reminder.

But the Bats of Spozark aren’t the only wildlife Springtime harbingers – my favorite evoke…a slightly different reaction from my bride. And with the flooding rains we’ve enjoyed this week, I’m fairly certain this wildlife pilgrimage will happen when the sun finally returns…

When the pilgrimage arrives, it’s unmistakable because Dionne usually celebrates (??) with a not-oft heard high-pitched scream, accompanied by an unusual dance and shudder. See, after heavy rain and some cooler temps, when the sun finally does appear – the first thing to dry and heat-up on our property is the front deck…an incredibly comfortable spot for all of the snakes on the property to congregate, warm-up, and escape the saturated yard. Black snakes, garter snakes – some I’ve never seen before – curl up on the deck and enjoy the sun…until the high-pitched scream, dance and shudder sends them slithering between the boards. And you know, that just makes things worse because she knows they’re still there – but now she can’t see them.

So – spend a fortune, drive across the country and look at a bunch of birds nest at a Mission. That’s fine. But you’re missing out on an amazing display of nature, and one of the most breathtaking, highly entertaining shows on Earth right here in the Midwest. Between the squeaks I’ve already enjoyed and the impending scream, dance and shudder by week’s end – who needs a calendar? I think it’s safe to say Spring has arrived.