Today is the first day of spring (also known as the furthest day possible from next winter).

Depending on your latitude, you may need the calendar to tell you that.  But even if your weather this morning doesn’t seem so springy, it will be here soon enough.

With spring, plants know the wait is over.  They may now officially begin to sprout and grow. Of course, some have already gotten a jump on things.  Greenhouses kickstart the process in winter.

Last month in Lancaster County my Amish friend Abe was busy re-potting thousands of tomato seedlings.  The temperature outside the greenhouse was frigid, but inside was toasty.  A wood furnace keeps things warm.  But he’ll be needing that less and less these days.

Here are 5 more signs of spring in Amish America:

1.The birds are back in town. Many Amish are avid birders.  The departure and return of certain species mark the seasons.  Amish bishop and farmer David Kline describes the arrival of the “Wings of Spring”–the Canada Goose–in his book Great Possessions:

Along about March even the most enthusiastic of us outdoor people are beginning to feel the monotony of winter.  Only a few new birds have been added to the list since January.   The birds that visit the feeder have been with us all winter, and even they are showing signs of restlessness. We strain for signs of spring–anything that gives even a hint that winter is relinquishing its hold.  To one of my neighbors spring is the rich aroma of newly turned earth, to another it is the rising and rolling steam from the sugar camp.  I got my assurance yesterday–the geese returned.  I was pushing down the straw for the cows last evening when I heard them arrive.  I got out of the barn in time to hear the wind whistle through their set wings as they came honking in to the pond.

2. Haymaking. In spring, hay season kicks in. Hay gets “made”–cut, dried, bundled and bustled off to hungry animals–about once a month in the warmer months.  I just came across a semi-humorous post about making hay in Amish Ohio I’d forgotten from a few years ago.  It’s hard work.

3. Flower gardens and stands. Amish gardens pump out a rainbow of fresh flowers, many of which they sell at roadside stands.  Prices are usually quite low–you might pay a few dollars a bunch (flowers are my mother’s #1 request when I visit PA).

Certain kinds are popular among Amish.  I don’t know much about flowers, but my favorite is the Celosia cristata, better known as the cockscomb, which you’ll see in Amish gardens everywhere:

4. Auctions. The mud auctions, happening in Lancaster County and elsewhere, are among the best-known.  But Amish also hold a variety of other sales in spring, including school auctions and Haiti sales in some communities.

This year the Arthur Amish community will warm things up at “Mini Haiti Sale” (previewing the full Haiti Sale in autumn) on June 4th, from 9-3pm at the Arthur Otto Center, along with a “Strawberry Social”.

5. ??? (fill in the blank–would love to hear your suggestions here)

And what else–Amish-related or not–signifies spring for you?

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