In the Northern Hemisphere, March 20th was the spring equinox, the first day of spring. It’s also referred to as the vernal equinox, vernal meaning fresh, new.
It may have been the first day of spring on the calendar. But not so much where I live, in Vermont. It’s still snowing every few days, although overall, the snow is melting off the open areas, allowing the sun to warm the ground. My landscapes this month are like a tricolored flag: blue (skies), white (snow and clouds), and brown (last year’s field grass and dead tree leaves). The only green is courtesy of a few pines and firs, their needles dulled in color since last spring’s growth. I’m eager for the vibrate hues of green brought by spring’s exuberant outbursts of new life on trees and shrubs.
Without crocuses pushing through the last of the snow, or daffodil bulbs shooting bright green leaves up through moist dirt – early harbingers of spring for many – I listen to the early migrating Canada geese and newly arrived song birds at dawn and dusk to assure me this truly is the spring equinox. Those sounds tell me Hold on, spring’s abundance is nearly here. Last year’s brown field grass will soon be replaced by fresh green sprouts, tree limbs will be hidden by leaves, and wildflowers will bloom. Bees will follow, and the Monarch butterflies will fly through on their amazing migration. The wait will be worth it.
In the meantime, the boys and I tromp through the fields and woods most days. I watch, and listen, and note the subtle changes as winter transitions to spring in my new home. It’s been a bumpy ride in March so far, with wild variations in temperature, wind, and moisture. On sunny days I imagine basking in the warmth of spring and summer, not having to put on several layers of clothes to go outside. But when there’s an overnight dusting of new snow, making the landscape clean and fresh again when I awake, I smile wistfully, knowing I’ll miss winter. In the muggy heat of summer, I’ll long for winter’s cold brisk air, the crunch of dry snow underfoot, the long shadows cast by leafless trees across the sparkling white ground, and the silence of a snow-hushed landscape at morning.
I’ll especially miss the looks of joy on my dogs’ faces as they run and roll in the snow.
I love winter. I really do.
But I also love spring.
Does that make me fickle?
Happy spring to everyone in the Northern Hemisphere. For those of you in the Southern Hemisphere, happy autumn!
Slush is frozen over. People say that winter lasts forever, but it’s because they obsess over the thermometer. North in the mountains, the maple syrup is trickling. Brave geese punch through the thin ice left on the lake. Underground, pale seeds roll over in their sleep. Starting to get restless. Starting to dream green.Laurie Halse Anderson, Speak
March is a month of considerable frustration – it is so near spring and yet across a great deal of the country the weather is still so violent and changeable that outdoor activity in our yards seems light years away.Thalassa Cruso, Making Things Grow (PBS)
Behold, my friends, the spring is come; the earth has gladly received the embraces of the sun, and we shall soon see the results of their love!Sitting Bull, Hunkpapa Lakota Leader (1831-1890)
You think winter will never end, and then, when you don’t expect it, when you have almost forgotten it, warmth comes and a different light.Wendell Berry, Hannah Coulter
It’s spring fever. That is what the name of it is. And when you’ve got it, you want—oh, you don’t quite know what it is you do want, but it just fairly makes your heart ache, you want it so!Mark Twain
One swallow does not make a summer, but one skein of geese, cleaving the murk of March thaw, is the Spring.Aldo Leopold
Springtime is the land awakening. The March winds are the morning yawn.Lewis Grizzard
It was one of those March days when the sun shines hot and the wind blows cold: when it is summer in the light, and winter in the shade.Charles Dickens, Great Expectations
No winter lasts forever; no spring skips its turn.Hal Borland
Spring is when you feel like whistling even with a shoe full of slush.Doug Larson
Feature photo taken March 23, 2022. All photos taken between March 20-23, 2022.