Mike Avery, the host of the syndicated radio show Mike Avery’s Outdoor Magazine, which can be heard Sunday mornings from 5 am to 8 am on 95.3 WBCK, has made a proclamation which at first surprised me, but after pondering it, makes sense.

At the beginning of his February 28th broadcast, he proclaimed that the first sign of spring, in Michigan, is not the long embraced heart-warming sighting of a Robin, bob-bob-bobbing in your yard. But rather, the first dead skunk that you find lying in the middle of the road (yes..we all remember that song…).

This theory instilled within me the desire to research the hibernation traits of the all-mighty, and much distained, Michigan skunk.

When thinking of the skunk, the first thing which comes to my mind is the song by Thunderclap Newman, Something in the Air. It just happens. I’ll be sitting on the couch, in the cozy confines of my bungalow, when the distinct aroma of the skunk registers in my senses. As the stench becomes stronger the melodic strums of the guitar and the unique vocals of that song just creep into my mind. It’s probably just a lasting effect of being a child of the Woodstock Generation.

According to WikipediA, the skunk doesn’t even rate a concern from the International Union for Conservation of Nature. That's because of the lack of predators, other than a desperate bird of prey. Vultures and crows love the stench. Hopefully, PETA hasn’t abandoned them. That would be the ultimate snub.

And to support Mike Avery’s proclamation that the dead skunk in the middle of the road is Michigan's  first sign of spring, WikipediA seems to second-the-motion. They confirm that the skunk tends to hibernate for most of the winter, depending on their body fat to pull them through the frigid months, perhaps losing 50% of their body weight. It is the warm fresh air which draws them from their dens.

In my opinion, the lowly skunk has reached a new level of status in my seasonal signs.

The first sign of summer is the initial airing of a Beach Boys triple-cut, at the end of May, on my favorite classic rock radio station.

The first sign of fall is when Macintosh apples are available at Gull Meadows Farms, just outside of Richland.

The first sign of winter is when my Jack Russell Terrier refuses the early morning bathroom trek, because the snow will be a shock to her under-belly.

And now, the first sign of spring is the sighting of an unfortunate skunk, which was probably still a little drowsy from its winter slumber, lying in repose in the middle of the road.

Sorry Robin, you’ve had your time as a springtime herald, but the skunk is a much better symbol.

But hey..you’re still the state bird…..