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I love walking down our farm lane, where nature surrounds me and there's no traffic, unless it's planting or harvesting time.

If possible I take the dog down the lane, too, but this isn't always possible, especially in the winter. I'm not very good at walking through snowdrifts, even if Sunny wouldn't mind charging through them.

When the last blocking drift of snow melted, I was more than ready for my first trek down the lane.

All winter my walks had been limited to our country road and its shoulder.

Sometimes it was too icy and treacherous for walking safely. That only left a boring walk on our treadmill.

As I watched the lane appear from beneath the snow, excitement filled me. It was time to change my walking habits again and return to the lane.

Old comfortable shoes went on my stockinged feet. As soon as my laces were tied, Sunny joined me at the door — our dog is always ready to go for a walk. He hardly gave me time to slip into my jacket.

Sunny did sit to be attached to his retractable leash, and then we were stepping into the sunshine.

Snuffling the ground, Sunny started down our winter road route. He bounced happily when I guided him into the lane. It's his favorite walking path, too.

I stepped off the blacktop and was immediately attacked by mud. My feet moved almost as if they had found glare ice. Instead of ice, a goopy patch of mud started sucking me down.

I'm sinking! I'm sliding! I'm falling! Luckily I found my balance before taking a gooey flop. My walk almost ended before it got started. Sidestepping, I found a grassy edge to the mud, and there I regained my footing.

A few more steps told me that the lane had a firmer path, and my walk continued — of course, Sunny didn't care at all about the muddy areas. If he couldn't step around them, he plodded through them.

I knew I wouldn't be taking a long walk — water (a small lake) crossed the lane ahead — but I could go far enough.

Squish. Squish. Squish. Some grassy areas were wet, but my old shoes didn't leak and I kept walking. My idea was to get closer to the water where geese had returned the previous night.

With Sunny on his leash, I didn't have to worry about him charging ahead, chasing the birds away. Most of his time, Sunny used his nose to check out every deer hoof print we passed on the lane. We both were enjoying our walk.

Halfway up a little rise, a sound from above began to grow. I stopped as flocks of Canada geese flew toward me. Sunny didn't look up. A cacophony (love that word) of bird sounds came from the sky and on the ground around me. I smiled and just stood there listening.

Some of the geese landed in last year's soybean field; others continued flying. Sunny sniffed a tuft of grass and lifted his leg. He was unimpressed.

Standing still watching nature singing and dancing before me wasn't much of an exercise period. Still, it sure did make my spirits sore.

Returning birds is great sign of spring; so is the absence of snow. I feel like I'm reborn, but I'm not putting away winter things.

Face it, we live in Wisconsin. In one day we can experience four seasons. Snow can return at any time.

Do not tempt fate by stashing away snow shovels or winter gear — not if you don't want the remnants of winter to return. That can wait until May, or even June, as we've had snow in May. Today, just enjoy the emergence of spring, and smile.

FYI: One more sign of spring is the WPS Farm Show, March 29, 30, 31 at the EAA grounds in Oshkosh.

Come visit Bob and me at the Wisconsin State Farmer booth in the North Tent #0128. I'll have books to sell.

Susan Manzke, Sunnybook Farm, N8646 Miller Rd, Seymour, WI 54165;Sunnybook@aol.com;www.SusanManzke.ne

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