On the ground I am also looking for something. Once the red maples begin to bloom, I look for the yellow trout lilies and the pink spring beauty to bloom. They complete my definition of the beginning of spring. By the time they begin to bloom the spring peepers are kicking up a fuss in the local ephemeral ponds looking for mates. Their eggs will hatch in the spring and by early summer the tadpoles will have become frogs and be already to venture out of the pond.
Spring might be an exciting time defined by wonderful showy blooms in the garden, but to really know that the season is here you need to go out into the woods. Let the native plants show you the way!