IT begins very early, not in March, but in the summer, when new buds form on trees, and push off the leaves, which fall to the ground.

If you look at any tree in October or November, you will see the next spring's buds. Perhaps the horse chestnut is the best to study, for its buds are so large, and it is an easy tree to find.

If you cut off a bud, you see that it shines as if it were covered with varnish; and if you open it carefully, you find something that looks like cotton-wool wrapped around the tiny green leaves that some day will cover the branches.

The varnish, or gum, keeps out the cold and wet; so does the wool, and the little leaves are as well protected as a duckling in the egg, or a baby in its crib-blankets.

Some day you will like to learn some pretty verses that begin-


"The trees and the flowers are running a race," 

and how they shout to the chestnut tree to put forth his leaves.

"Then the chestnut hears, and breaks out in bloom, 

White and pink, to the topmost boughs;

Oh, why not grow higher, you've plenty of room, 

You beautiful tree, with the sky for your house;" 

and you will hear of the avenue of horse-chestnut trees,

 a mile long, at Bushy Park, near London, 

that everybody goes to see in blossom-time.

If you think the winter very long, and are tired of waiting for spring, you can coax a little of it to come early for you. Go into the woods some mild day in winter, and dig up a few roots of hepatiea, or liverwort, as some people call it. It has glossy green leaves that last all winter, and are divided into three parts, or lobes. 

Under these leaves are little flower buds, rolled up in their furry coverings.  Put the plants into a pot of earth and set it in a sunny window.  Long before the out-of-door flowers have thought of blooming, your pot will be full of pale-purple, pink, or white blossoms. If somebody who painted a little group of them that I have just seen, had known, and loved, and watched them when she was a little girl, she would not have made them bright blue in her picture. That is what comes of not learning to use one's own eyes, and copying from others who have never used theirs.

About the middle of March the bluebirds begin to sing, and a week or two later whole flocks of blackbirds are creaking and chattering in the bare trees. When I hear them, I begin to look for pussy willows, and bring great handfuls of them into the house. Do you know whether "pussies" are flower or leaf buds? This spring will be a good time to find out. What becomes of them after they lose their gray, furry look?

What kind of blossoms has the birch?

Does the elm-tree ever blossom, and when?

You all know, don't you, when to look for the red flowers of the maple? 

When you see them, it is time to search for hepaticas in sunny, sheltered places.  By this time, too, you hear the frogs in the ponds two kinds, the deep-voiced "bull-paddies," as the boys call them, and the small, shrill-voiced peeping hylas. When they are fairly awake, you may look for red-winged blackbirds, and a week or two later, for early anemones.

By this time spring is fairly awake; and you will be surprised to find, even after two or three days of cold rain, that the pastures are blue with violets. 

The mayflower, or trailing arbutus, has come long ago, but everybody has not the good luck to live near it. If it grows near you, take a few roots into the house in the fall, and you will have blossoms early in the winter. Red and yellow columbines, too, are nodding on the rocks; and before you fairly look for them, the long-stemmed violets and jack-in-the-pulpit are springing up to welcome you.

What is the jack-in-the-pulpit? Is it a flower? What kind of seeds has it?

Just use your eyes, children, and find out some of these things for yourselves before next summer. 

Youth's Companion.