Oh, the smells, sights and sounds of spring!

Jerry Apps
Author Jerry Apps considers the sights and sounds of snow and ice melting is Nature's music.

I was talking to a fellow old-timer the other day and I asked him what he was doing.  His answer: “I’m watching the snow melt.” I had to fess up that I’d been doing that as well.

As a kid, I always looked forward to the first snow in fall, and I was just as excited to see the snowmelt, even though it meant a lot of spring work was just on the horizon.

Beyond watching the snow melt, I liked to listen to it melt. A 20-acre field east of the farmstead on the home farm had a rather steep hill with a gulley. Over the years, dad filled the gulley with stones that he picked from the field. The most beautiful sound was that of meltwater gurgling over the stones as the snow melted. I would often walk out there to hear what I called “Nature’s music.”

Each spring as the snow melted, it created a little stream of meltwater that ran between the house and the barn. One year, Dad made a little waterwheel out of a cedar shingle. He placed it on the meltwater stream.

In the morning, the little waterwheel didn’t move. By mid-afternoon on a warm, sunny day, the little waterwheel would turn rapidly, making a “flip, flip” sound that I remember so well to this day. We knew that when the waterwheel stopped turning for good, that spring work was just around the corner.

Oh, the smells, sights and sounds of spring! Nature in all its glory.

THE OLD TIMER SAYS: What fun it is to both watch and listen to the snow melt.

Jerry Apps

Jerry Apps, born and raised on a Wisconsin farm, is Professor Emeritus at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the author of more than 35 books, many of them on rural history and country life. For further information about Jerry's writing and TV work, go to