Seeking Spring Signs

Bare branches of forsythia cut to bloom after about a week indoors.

March marches in with better sunshine, equinox only weeks away.  This is often a turbulent month, with high winds, unexpected deep freezes, and an occasional blizzard roaring in out of nowhere.  For me, March also heralds real new year, when my brain begins to unclog, casts off the pallor of imaginary hostage confinement by weather, and plans actively for good times to come.

If I search diligently, spring emergence is ubiquitous.  Bulb shoots thrust higher by the day.  Rose and briar stalks streak red and green.  Buds swell on almost all trees and bushes.  The andromeda tree in front is ready to flower, and I have cut forsythia to force in our kitchen for a burst of color.  Garlic clumps dab emerald among fallen leaves, soon to be followed by more unwelcome mats of chickweed.  Already, in sheltered spots, ragweed stakes out territory.

Roses begin to demonstrate a few hopeful hints of what is to come

Fewer birds have overwintered near our yard this year, perhaps scared away by a nearly resident falcon which often perches on a dogwood tree out back.  I’ve not yet seen a robin, but they will return soon.  Crows and jays are beginning to screech.  Small birds flit about as they have all winter.  On the harbor,  waterfowl resume mating antics.   If I stop and pay attention, I can believe another cycle begins as always.  If I pay more attention, I realize that there is less wildlife than I remember.

On a warm afternoon, clouds of gnats will puff in shafts of sunlight.  An insomniac bee may start making a futile search for flowers.  Spiders might produce webs.  In warming beds of leaves, all kinds of larvae stir after their long rest.  One day, suddenly, there will be ants and unwelcome termites, and other arthropods which I cannot name.

Only the most ambitious and restless have begun spring chores.  I do know people who already turn over garden beds, while here and there chainsaws and leaf blowers pierce the lovely quiet we have enjoyed for such a brief respite.  But mostly it is too early to paint, too cold to put out patio furniture, much too winter to even think about flowers and grass.  However, the thought that all this activity will soon arrive in force is enough to make me grateful for a little longer period of rest, sort of like pushing a snooze button on the seasonal alarm clock.

Bay and beach look fine as summer, but are swept by bitter wind.

The worst frost spell is unbound; I begin to dream of green fields and gardens and long afternoons on a hot beach with gulls flying overhead as salty drops dry on my skin.  Not too long from now, what will we do, where will we go?  I compose a wavering list of places to visit once again, to renew acquaintance with locations in the most pleasant weather imaginable.  Not memory, although remembrance is involved, but dreams of how fine it will be.

Still, it is only March.  I have to rein back my thoughts and return to actual blustery conditions.  I continue to sit inside on too many dreary wet days.  All those wonderful spring-summer-fall marvels to come are _ well, just “to come.”  It is real easy to become fidgety and wonder why grey skies do not break open, why the beautiful promise of brilliant sunbeams is so often crushed by actual conditions when I step outside the door.  March by the solar calendar of our latitude continues defined as winter. 

Then I return to the cold comforts of a season of hibernation.  Reading in warmth, able to sit and not feel guilty for not doing something _ anything_ more.  Enjoying thick hot soups and stews.  As always, when I try, grateful for progression in my life, for the fact that days are not always the same, for the variety of being.  Spiced with the meteorological variety offered by this month.

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