As I was leaving work on Friday I saw a sight that would warm the heart of all those who yearn for the end of winter: A Richardson's Ground Squirrel (commonly and mistakenly known around here as gophers) ran across the parking lot.
Ground squirrels spend most of their year underground hibernating. They pop up in early spring to mate, fight with each other (males), rear their young and store food. This is a reasonably short, yet exceptionally busy period of time. By the end of July the adults will be heading back underground. The juveniles will remain active until around the end of September.
While we spent the first part of February dicussing the pros and cons of the various groundhogs seeing, or not seeing, their shadows the humble Richardson's Ground Squirrel may give us a better indication of when our spring may arrive and what it may look like.
Also, and I think I tweeted this on our Twitter Feed, while enjoying a brisk, late-winter snowshoe with my family on Sunday morning, my daughter said "Listen Daddy, geese." Sure enough, I looked up to see the first V of returning geese this year. Spring must be on its way.