Spring Equinox

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!

dogs on snow-covered path through woods

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)
A snow-melt moat around trees, last year's leave on the ground

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)
Two dogs running across field of dead grass and snow

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
happy dog running down snow-covered path in woods
Even Conall gets spring fever.

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
Dogs, cairn, boulder, snow, frozen pond
Paying our respects at Coyote Cairn.

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
Dog rolling on snow-covered path in woods

Feature photo taken March 23, 2022. All photos taken between March 20-23, 2022.

18 thoughts on “Spring Equinox”

    1. Yes! I don’t know that I’ve ever experienced such a wide variety of weather in March as here in Vermont, this year. I plan our outings by calculating the extra warmth provided by the sun at various angles throughout the day because the wind blows strong and cold most days. Still, I bet I’ll appreciate that wind when the black flies come out later this spring.

      Liked by 3 people

  1. Down here, spring arrives with the Sandhill Cranes. For me, they kind of make up for the loss of winter — which we haven’t had much of for the past two years. Things will be pretty ok until June when all hell breaks loose, I mean stupid F(*&#$% summer, but good times will again be heralded by Sandhill Cranes in late September. I bought a summer wardrobe, all beige having read that deer flies and mosquitoes don’t like light colors. We’ll see how that plays out. Evening walks in summer can be beautiful looking and mildly tolerable to experience. Oh, someone wants to say something…

    “Finn and Conall, put a good face on it. Winter will come back, or so I must believe. Your pal, Polar Bear Yeti T. Dog” (Teddy is happy with anything…)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes! In Idaho, Sandhill cranes were harbingers of spring. I miss them!

      I have yet to live through a “black fly season.” Not looking forward to that. I’ll think about what colors I wear, and I’ll keep moving when outdoors!

      The boys appreciate Bear’s wise counsel. I’ll remind them in August, when it’s hot and humid, with no snow to be found. At least in Idaho we could find little pockets of snow lingering at high elevations, even in August. We make do with what we have, right Bear?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. “Yes, Rebecca! Your pal, Polar Bear Yeti T. Dog ❤ P.S. Martha thinks she might ride her bike at the refuge in summer because she'll go too fast for the deer flies. I have no idea what any of that means."

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I love Dickens. His words are the perfect applique to this piece.

    One of the things I dig about my state (PA) is how weather never gets TOO extreme. Sure we have our moments, but they’re usually just that, moments.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Moments. Good analysis. On a recent day when the wind howled all ‘frickin’ day and night, I thought, “This is what’s different about Vermont. In Idaho, the wind, rain, snow, whatever, lasted at most a few hours before calm returned. Here? It goes on for 36-48 hours at a punch.” That’s gonna take some getting used to. Enjoy your moments and be thankful.

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  3. Great quotes! I was awakened two nights ago by another harbinger of spring, the first mosquito. A few over-winter in the house every year. Soon bats will arrive and take up residence in the barn. Mrs. Woodchuck emerged from her den under the porch last week. Soon we’ll have woodchuck pups, no doubt. We had some last year and they were really cute. Conall and Finn might take a different view.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Brad!

      I am not eager to hear/see/feel the bite of mosquitos! Those little buggers keep me awake at night with their droning bzzzz (well, the females, anyway) if they get in the house. Keep them down your way a while longer, please.

      I have yet to see a woodchuck here. Conall and Finn would be delighted to have one or more to harass, especially because they don’t have quills 😉 On second thought, maybe that’s why I haven’t seen any woodchucks; they saw the boys first!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I love that Mark Twain quote — I’ve not seen that one before. I just returned home from a road trip to see the Sandhill Crane migration in Nebraska (an amazing experience I’ll be writing about this week). This was my first time in Nebraska, and the wind never stopped blowing. And there was a snowstorm followed by thunderstorms, and temperatures from 75 to 35, all within 72 hours.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Your post on the Sandhill crane migration is awesome, Kim! You didn’t mention the – ahem – challenging weather 🙂 So glad your videos, which include the amazing sound of thousands of Sandhill cranes calling as they fly, weren’t ruined by the sound of wind hitting the microphone.

      Liked by 1 person

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