Yesterday morning found a red-winged blackbird scratching under my birdfeeder. It stood out among the usual collection of songbirds because I hadn't seen one since last fall. Many people peg the robin as the first bird of spring, but too many of those birds stick around throughout the year. When I see a male red-wing, I know spring can't be far behind. I keep a little black book of such sightings - the first red-wing, the first bluebird, the first maple sap run, the first spring beauty blossom, and I write down sightings from the other end of the year, too; the last monarch butterfly, the first measurable snowfall. Flipping through the worn pages, it's easy to see that the winter months have the fewest sightings recorded and late winter/early spring has the most. It's easily the most thrilling time of year for anyone paying attention to the comings and goings of local wildlife, and marking down those events helps me connect to their annual rhythms. Writing down this year’s first red-wing sighting, it occurred to me that this blog is something similar. I write down/record Violet’s first this or that, trying to connect with it beyond just watching it happen. The distressing part is that these natural events are not part of an annual cycle. Violet’s “firsts” will only come once.