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Desperately Seeking Signs of Spring

A sign of spring

The Heartbreak Month

In Massachusetts, March is the month of heartbreak. February gets the bad rap, but we can shrug off the groundhog and its promise of an early spring with the sneer they deserve. March is different, though. When the calendar and nature both insist that spring has come—dang, they’re convincing.

New Englanders know the calendar is a chronic liar. (That blur of activity between Thanksgiving and Christmas was NOT 29 days!) Bitter experience has taught us that Winter, with its warped sense of humor, might drop 2 feet of snow on us on April 1. Or later. (And it wonders why we never invite it to our parties. This year, Texas could probably charge it with assault.) But… but… the sun is higher than it’s been for months, and birds are singing instead of making plaintive little chirps. Toss in a clear blue sky, and I lose my head, dashing out without bundling up first. I pay for it, coming back from a BRISK walk with icicle fingers and freezing toes. The snowpack may be just three inches deep, but the wind whipping over it is cold.

The entire state will become more and more delusional as migrant birds return, nature gifts us with a few 60-degree-Fahrenheit days, and red maples sport tiny red flowers. We’ll pretend our daffodils won’t disappear under snowdrifts or a sheet of ice within seconds of popping up. We’ll risk frostbite for the chance to shed the winter jackets we’ve been living in. We’ll make stupid choices because all of us are drunk on hope.

Poor Decisions

Unfortunately, poor decisions this March could be dangerous.

Not only are we desperate for signs of spring, we’re also desperate for the end of the COVID-19 pandemic. Vaccines are rolling out, lucky friends and relatives got their first shots, and infection numbers are dropping. After a year of fear and isolation—and much, much worse for so many people—we yearn for life to go back to normal. Yet, like winter, this epidemic isn’t over. New variants are more contagious, and lots of us are still waiting for our vaccinations.

So—I’ll make a deal with you. I won’t succumb to false hopes for either spring or COVID-19. I’ll keep my snow shovel handy until late April, and I’ll wear a mask and social distance until Dr. Fauci tells me it’s safe. In return, I ask you to do the same. For you. For me. For all of us.


If you like humor and nature, check out a few of my other posts: When Your Houseplants Answer You Mouse Wars: When Rodents Invade the House Are Birds Curious About Us?

5 responses to “Desperately Seeking Signs of Spring”

  1. Well said and very true, but I do feel obliged (by my compulsive fair-mindedness) to mention 2 things March is very good at.

    (1) Clouds gallop across the sky in 2 or 3 different directions, depending on altitude.

    (2) Depending on the weather, late March and early April may share the credit for inspiring my tanka about crocus blooms and horny little frogs:

    ~ *Wordless Oratorio*
    ~ ~ Singing silent songs
    ~ ~ of long warm days returning,
    ~ ~ bee and bloom duet.
    ~ ~ In vernal pools near bare trees,
    ~ ~ spring peepers chant the chorus.


    • Good point–March has its own treasures, especially as the month gets older. Your poem is especially apt this year–thank you for sharing it! Peepers and wood frogs were singing today, and the vernal pool in the woods in back had an egg mass attached to a branch. And I never knew that clouds often move in different directions, especially in March! I thought that was a rarity. I really need to learn more about meteorology sometime.


      • Here’s what little I know about differences in wind direction at various heights (or about other kinds of wind shear): it’s exhilarating to watch from the ground but can be dangerous to fly thru.

        Googling “wind shear” would provide much more info.


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