March is here — and in my book, that’s sufficient cause for a confident and relieved round of rousing cheers.
Yes, I know, recent temperatures have taken a disappointing downturn. After several days enjoying delightful daytime highs in the upper-50s, fickle February regressed. The past few days have been decidedly more wintery than spring-like. Warm, cold, sometimes rainy, with icy winds and even an occasional snow flurry.
Not a surprise. Weather this time of the year is always unstable — iffy, inconsistent, fluctuating, a sort of two-step do-si-do dance routine.
But as much as it may not look or feel like it, sometimes, we are heading in the right direction —making progress.
Winter’s sovereignty is relaxing, lessening its hold—even though spring won’t be formally proclaimed for nearly three additional weeks, on the 20th of the month, at the moment of the passing equinox.
Yup — by the calendar, March remains officially two-thirds winter.
Nature writer Hal Borland liked to refer to March as an “interregnum month,” which I’ve always thought was a good description befitting this transition period between two distinctly different seasons.
And even though its weather is typically vacillating and unpredictable, it shouldn’t be discouraging.
An old friend always said the weeks of March served up “doable weather.” She’d been born and raised on Trinidad, a sunny tropical island in the Caribbean.
To her, Ohio wasn’t just a strange state in a foreign land — it was practically an inhospitable outpost on an alien planet! Winter was an annual ordeal to be suffered through and survived. But March with its “doable” days, became her light of hope at the end of a bitterly harsh tunnel.
Indeed, for all its capriciousness, March’s equinoctial stirrings bring clear reassurance of the vernal resurrection.
Change is everywhere afoot, though much of it remains invisible. Yet somewhere in the hidden mystery of root and seed, egg and pupa, the season’s measure and progress is being daily taken.
This unseen accountability tracks a thousand unique rhythms — each living thing keeping its own score, marking its own passage. When the time comes — as it so often does in March — the pace suddenly quickens. Blood in the sleeping woodchuck livens. Deep in the white oak’s heart-roots, sap stirs.
March arrives and nature’s pulse begins to throb, whether in hemoglobin red or chlorophyll green. Stimulating changes we can see!
In the marshy corner of a long-neglected farm pond, newly-returned red-winged blackbirds will soon be balancing on desiccated weed stalks, screeching and flashing their scarlet epaulets.
Countless buds, long-dormant and set on last summer’s twigs, are already perceptibly beginning to swell.
My neighbor’s yard has been sprinkled white with blooming snowdrops for more than a week. While just up the road, a woodsy bend is spattered with yellow winter aconites.
I expect to see crocus planted near the cottage’s south wall pop up any day. And bloodroot on our driveway hillside has already poked furled leaf-heads from the duff. Before the month’s end, they will display their lovely blooms.
When these first flowers of the year make their appearance, I inevitably feel compelled to mount at least one exploratory foray in search of skunk cabbage and snow trilliums. I may or may not find these two spring harbingers a’bloom in their usual places — but I know for certain I’ll find mud on the trails.
Spring’s mud! That soft, oozy matrix from much of the burgeoning season’s brand new and glorious greenery begins to emerge.
March is here — the earth is reawakening. Rejoice!
Reach Jim McGuire at [email protected] Viewpoints expressed in the article are the work of the author.