Lots of years we wish for winter to end, but this year many of us are impatient for the departure of a long, wet, and chilly spring. Here at our office we were cheered by some harbingers of spring — nesting birds.

Earlier this month a pair of mourning doves met regularly on a cement ledge outside our second-story window. They piled up lots of twigs and leaves as they planned how to build their nest, and their cooing sounds were soothing, but we fretted over whether the nest would work. Wouldn’t the eggs fall off the ledge?

Undaunted, the doves continued to accumulate twigs and leaves.

Worried, we checked with a website that answers E-mail questions. “Doves make nests in the strangest of places,” advises Marilyn Mause of the Maryland Department of Natural Resources. “They nest three to five times a year, and not all nests are successful. If you would try to move them they would abandon the location, plus there is a federal law preventing the removal of a dove nest with eggs or young in them. My advice is watch what they do, enjoy your view of nature, and if the nest does not go well, realize they will nest again.” Wisely, the doves decided to locate elsewhere, leaving their trove of twigs behind.

Another bird pair was more successful. On page 46 Jamie Saxon tells how “the anomaly of a wild creature on a corporate lawn turned out to be the personal fascination of virtually everyone in our office park.”

The opportunity to “get back to nature” is one of the joys of the Memorial Day weekend, the first long weekend for what we all hope will be a “good weather summer.” Our list of events starts on page 18, and our cover features some of the outdoor destinations, clockwise from the top:

For the first time the Princeton International Regatta Association at Mercer Lake hosts the women’s NCAA championships, Friday to Sunday, May 26 to 28 (609-799-7100). Photo by Myrna Ludwig.

Retired First Sergeant Richard Pinter will play taps at 20 locations this weekend, including at Greenwood Cemetery, 1800 Hamilton Avenue, Trenton, on Saturday at 11 a.m. and the West Windsor Veteran’s Monument on Main Street on Saturday at 1:30 p.m. Pinter served 38 years in the Pennsylvania Army National Guard and was the bandmaster of the Adjutant General’s Own 276th Army Band; he retired as a sergeant major and is the official bugler of Bordentown Township. Photo by Mike Friedman.

The 63rd running of America’s oldest bicycle race, the Tour of Somerville (see story on page 34), will attract a crowd of 20,000 people on Monday, as the town becomes one giant street fair (908-725-7223).

NCAA-bound Princeton and Lehigh play at Clarke Field on Saturday, May 27, at 2 p.m. Free admission and low cost hot dogs and burgers (609-258-3538). Photo by Beverly Schaeffer.

Center: The Raritan River Music Festival, known for concerts in picturesque settings, concludes its 2006 series at the historic Clinton Presbyterian Church with a performance of the Soclair Baroque Ensemble on Saturday, May 27, at 7:30 p.m. (908-213-1100).

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