The Toronto Maple Leafs aren’t in the playoffs, brown is once again the most popular automobile color and ambitious motorcyclists are being pelted in the face by hail.

Could spring really, truly, finally have – dare I say it … sprung?!

Sure the mountaintops are dusted with snow, the winter parka is at the ready and some early mornings your breath is still visible but, after seven months of scraping, shovelling and shivering there are definitely signs that spring is alas upon us.

Leafs jokes and dirty car references aside, the two most obvious indications of spring are the unique northern smells and the frenzy surrounding swans.

Let’s start with the largest members of the duck family, the swans.

I think it is a fair bet to say that nowhere else in the world do people go as bonkers for swans as they do right here in the Yukon.

Don’t get me wrong, I love swans. Alright, I don’t love swans but I certainly don’t hate them and it is apparent neither do you, but the extent to which swan love goes in the North is unprecedented.

So much so that a haven – yes, a haven – has been dedicated to the birds.

There are even white-painted wooden cutouts of swans that adorn some Yukon roadways just to inform us all when the trumpeters and tundras have arrived so that we subsequently can venture out to the haven and watch the birds.

It’s incredible as they fly and land and then fly and do other crazy bird-like antics.

When I moved to the North some time ago I never thought I’d be moving to a place where a community was so swan crazy.

And I’m guilty, too, of jumping on the “swan wagon” and venturing out to witness them firsthand in all their swan glory!

I’m led to believe the swan passion stems from both a love for animals and (more so) a love for the end of winter. I for one know that when I see the wooden cutouts and overhear conversations at the grocery story of weekend trips to the “haven” I know it’s spring in the Yukon.

The second hint that spring may be here is the smells that fill the air this time of year.

It is an aroma that is uniquely northern, that being the scent of the spring “thaw”.

Right now from Yukon community to Yukon community the “thaw” is taking place.

Just one whiff is proof that not everyone was carrying a doggie bag this winter.

Can’t really blame them, I guess, when it’s near minus 50 and Sparky has to go.

The “thaw” is made even more potent with the ending of the winter idle.

It is a wonderful thing when your morning inhale of the incredible North is no longer tainted by exhaust fumes and instead welcomes the hint of cranberries, patchouli and the spring “thaw”.

So take a whiff and look skyward.

If the smell is a bit off and the sky is full of white feathered fowl, it may mean spring has finally sprung.

Note: shortly after writing this a hailstorm pounded Whitehorse and the following morning I was forced to dig my ice scraper out of the closet. You are warned.