Who doesn’t pine for the promise of a spring-like day this time of year? I’ll tell you who: Bill Fitzgerald at Mann Apple Orchards in Methuen.

"Honestly, we just love to see good old average temperatures and have things just be normal," Fitzgerald explained. "The trees know nothing but temperature and we want the trees to remain dormant."

What brings apple trees out of dormancy is a string of warm weather. The earlier in the season that happens, the higher the risk of a subsequent cold snap or frost. And that can ruin an entire season’s crop right from the start—even kill trees.

"If you had a week of nighttime temperatures in the mid-forties and daytime temperatures in the low-sixties, I think we might be looking at a problem," Fitzgerald said.

But not all area trees are in trouble if they wake up early. In fact, the mild winter has the juices flowing in area maples, explains John Forti, director of horticulture for the Massachusetts Horticultural Society.

"We’ve seen some of the earliest maple sugaring for instance that we might have ever experienced," he said. "I knew people that were tapping trees throughout this whole past month and quite often It’s not until right now that you see that starting to happen."

In fact, weeks before the official start of spring, there’s a whole host of life emerging from the well-thawed New England soil like snow drops, heaths and heathers, which are all blooming.

And in perennial-packed gardens, Forti says he's even seeing herbs and veggies working their way to the surface—most plenty hearty—and at little risk should temperatures significantly cool, like lovage, rhubarb and salad burnet, and chives.

Forti says this mild winter—especially in recent weeks—has also been a boon for area farmers who extend their growing season with greenhouses and hoophouses.

"So this year—given that it’s so warm—I think those hoop houses that are not even heated have been bringing out some of the finest greens I’ve seen at the farmer’s market this early in the year," he said.

And while the professionals are enjoying an early jump on the season, for amateurs—as tempting as it might be to do the same on unseasonably warm weekends—Forti says it might be best to cool your jets.

"Maybe it’s not the worst thing to leave some of those leaves and needles down because they really provide a lot of habitat for the smaller creatures that are beneficial in our gardens," he explained.

And that goes for you lawn manicurists out there, too.

"We’ve come to learn that a lot of the plants that grow in our lawns—even, like, the dandelions, provide some of the most important food for our pollinators in the months before the rest of the landscape comes to life," Forti explained. 

Instead, Forti suggests enjoying a warm day in the wild, observing the subtle swelling of soon-to-bud tree branches, chipmunks emerging from hibernation, and the increasingly populated skies.

"The early migrant [birds] have come up—earlier than they would normally do because of the mild temperature," said Andrew Vitz, Massachusetts' State Ornithologist.

These early-birds include the common grackle, the robin, and the red-winged blackbird. They are what's called "short distance migrants." They never stray too far south, and decide when to return based on temperature. They're also taking a calculated risk by arriving this soon.

"There’s a lot of pressure for birds, especially in the spring, to get to their breeding territories early because it allows them to procure the highest quality territories and to attract mates," said Vitz. "But if the weather turns and we get a cold snap that lasts for some time, that can be perilous."

The vast majority of migratory birds cue in not on temperature, but on the length of day—and won’t start their journey to the area until later in the year, no matter how warm the coming weeks. 

"May is really the month where we’re going to get a large influx of migratory birds," Vtiz said. "And it really is a special event where you have just hundreds of species. Just keep your eyes open. You’ll be surprised at how many things you see out there when you’re looking for 'em."

And with them will come the rose-tinged apple blossoms, trees flush with viridescent leaves, and flowers in more shapes and shades than a Monet. In short: Spring.