Marching On


  • Sometimes I fall back into the religious moods of my youth.  This time of year does remind me of Lent, a time of penance and deprivation before the full joy of Easter springs forth.  The weather promises wonderful things, then suddenly removes fine days as quickly as they have arrived, replaced with snow and cold and harsh windy rainstorms.  But always there is a gleam of promise in the near future.
  • In another metaphor, perhaps it is that nature begins to wake from what seems a long coma.  Signs are everywhere if I look, from small buds to grand flowers and emerging green shoots.  The entire local environment is in renewed ferment, if I search deeply.  Just, perhaps, not moving quickly enough to suit my impatience.
  • Magically, the mornings are darker and the evenings lighter.  Daylight savings time does not affect anything except people and their artificial hours, but perhaps even birds notice that the rhythms of those crazy humans have unexpectedly lurched an hour.  Or maybe everything ignores me as completely as I too often do everything.


  • March always seems a youthful season, a screaming newborn infant, juiced with potential and fully formed aspirations, but difficult to deal with.  Whereas autumn can seem morose in spite of its colorful beauty, spring is culturally a time of hope and optimism, in spite of the actual external conditions that may hang around (here at least) through mid or late April.  Certainly the signs of life are everywhere, forcing their way restlessly from hibernation or seed. 
  • Even heavily bundled up, I notice clumps of brilliant crocuses, glints of verdant tiny leaves, expanding buds fuzzing the outline of trees and shrubs.  If I pay more attention, on warmer days, there are solitary bees or other insects, and once in a while a swarm of gnats seemingly lost in the wilderness.  Life is awakening rapidly.  When I do not notice that, it is entirely my own failure of observation.  Another year, another spring, another launch into presumed happy times to come.


  • It’s an ill wind that blows good to no one.
  • Chill blustery gales at least make me appreciate my snug home. 


  • Spring has become my season of anticipation.  I anxiously watch daffodils and crocuses, garlic and chickweed, swans and ducks,  bees and gnats,  willows and maples,  as they progress day to day.  So much is happening, so much is unwrapping.  Santa Claus rides down the wind every night, leaving presents to observe the next morning.
  • Sometimes it can get out of hand.  Why, I wonder, has the forsythia _ primed for weeks now _ not yet bloomed?  What is holding back the dandelions?  Who ordered this snow cover?  Too much worry, too much desire, and certainly an eroding memory which has jumbled up memories of what comes next.
  • March is all about hope.  I accept that this is still mostly winter, and each indication to the contrary is a miracle.  April, on the other hand, is mostly disappointment that it is not quite May.  On equivalently nice days, March can seem benign, but next month can appear brutal.  All is determined by context and expectation.
  • You may tell me I should anticipate less, expect nothing.  But I would answer doing so dulls and diminishes my happiness, perverse though it may be.  In the meantime, I am glad that March is finally here, dark mornings and all, blustery winds, chill frost, iced lands, with lovely gifts enough even for me if I simply open them with gratitude.


  • Each year around this time it seems appropriate to write a paean to skunk cabbage.  This unnoticed and unrespected native flower inhabits bogs and creek beds,  pushing up its odd and disturbing fleshy flowers well before anything else.  It is immune to late freeze, because it generates its own heat.  And all summer it brightens what would otherwise be dark mud with brilliant large green leaves.
  • But, precisely because of the conditions it requires, no one notices it.  I do not tramp through swamps with their clouds of insects.  I will not build a bog in my back yard to cultivate it.  It cannot be cooked, consumed, picked, nor really aesthetically appreciated.  But, for all that, I admire that it has found a niche in our modern world.  Not like the ragweed, taking advantage of humans disturbing soil, but able to flourish in all the dark hidden places that are just too much bother for us to rework to our needs.
  • Note: the picture planned was not taken since everything is at the moment under several inches of ice.  This frozen field caused by an extreme high tide during a late spring storm.  


“Hey, watch where you’re poking that thing,” comes the plaintive thin cry.
“Sorry, sorry, didn’t see you there, Alice” responds Rob Robin to the tiny daffodil he has almost pecked.  “Trying to find some unfrozen soil and not paying much attention.”
“You should have stayed away longer,” notes Alice, nodding in the chill breeze.
“You should have slept longer,” retorts Rob.
“Yeah, we’re all captives of capricious climate,” sings the flower.
“You can joke if you want.  For you it’s all a game.  You don’t even care if you’re covered in six inches of snow.  Me, I go hungry or worse.”
“I’m sure it will be better soon.  Here, you can try closer than that,” says Alice sympathetically.

“Thanks.  Sometimes it’s not so easy being the early bird …”


Chilled snow frowns
Blinding sun smiles
Which, this day,

Shall I accept?

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