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During that long, hard, cold winter, it was easy to forget about how fast and how thickly things turn green up here. Winter ended only a few weeks ago, it seems, and now summer is coming on like a steam locomotive rushing into the station as if to make up time. I've been mowing and sowing and weeding and feeding and every so often standing back to look at spring busting out all over, as if it had to get out of the way of summer before it comes piling in.

On the east side of our house the firepinks — a spectacular little bright-red wildflower — have come on the strongest we've ever seen. The flame azaleas are astonishingly bright, and on the road down to the barn the lane is lined with big pink rhododendren blooms. The laurels are just now beginning to show their white lacy blooms and the irises have shot up and overflowed with purple blossoms.

Longtime residents up here see this kind of thing all the time, and may be used to the sights. But for me, a city boy who spent as much time as I could outdoors and out in the country when I could, it's still new. The other day I found the first arrowhead I can recall. It was a reddish piece of something, unmistakable shaped as a projectile point, lying there in the dirt not 50 feet from where I picked up a stone ax head a few years ago. My father-in-law had found arrowheads on the property in the same place, and my father as a boy had found a handful of arrowheads in Guilford County as well, but in more than 60 years of looking, this was my first.

Then yesterday, coming down the driveway from the mailbox, Diesel engine roaring, I flushed out two bluebirds — bright blue and rusty orange slashes jetting out of the hay — from the nearby field where the grass is getting waist-deep, and seconds after that I flushed out two turkeys, both of which took wing over my head and into sanctuary of the woods. It was a heart-pounder. Where else are you going to get a show like that?

Jack Betts

Jack Betts is retired associate editor of The Charlotte Observer.

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