This morning sun light fills the air. The sky is brilliantly blue. It is the first day in the last four without rain, snow, and wind and the contrast of a bright clear day fills my heart and soul with love.
March, perhaps the dreariest of all months in New England, does indeed have days that are wonderful and blithe. In small increments this month gives us hope with the occasional sunny stretch that hints of days to come. April will have its’ own drama. The month of bursting flowers and a greening landscape will fill our souls with awe, but it lacks the sheer spectacle of this last month of winter.
These next warm days will do much harm to the remaining snow cover. Yes, we still have a foot and a half of the white stuff to turn into water and replenish our streams, lakes, and aquifers, but with each passing day one can witness the retreat. No doubt the retreat will be met with some resistance. It is likely we will still get another snow storm. We will probably still have day time temperatures on certain days that do not reach freezing. It is also true that with each passing day the sun climbs higher in the sky, days are longer, and the earth warms slowly and steadily to pull back the white blanket that protects our landscape from past bone chilling cold.
As the snow melts and the resulting water runs off, our streams become full to the brim. Water rushes down slope in deep channels filled to the brink. It is a wonder that there is any stability to stream beds at this time of year. Years and years of hard running water has sorted sand from gravel, gravel from stone, and stone from boulder. Each has been placed strategically along the stream channel to build a fortress of resistance; one that can only be completely disturbed by monumental events.
These bright days renew my spirit. My heart is in a state of rejoice as the light fills every nook and cranny of the day. Hardwood branches devoid of green leaflets soak up energy as the sun beams energy to living cells. The contrast of sharply edged shadows from branches above on the waning snow catches the attention of even the most unobservant. Lichen on tree bark, normally an exercise in camouflage, stands out brilliantly in white, green, and brown colors. The landscape is extremely bold; subtle cannot survive on these brilliant March days.
Occasionally a passing cloud blocks the sun and casts a shadow on part of the quiet panorama that is before me. I watch the dark shadow race across the landscape temporarily covering tree, stonewall, and white snow with a blanket of darkness. And just as suddenly as the dark shroud appears it pulls away leaving a wake of brilliance and contrast behind.
I am full of wonder. What will each new spring day reveal? On some days it will be the arrival of a new flock of birds not seen since the end of last summer. On another day a leaf bud will burst into a leaf on a favorite tree. Fungi will begin to decorate the forest floor, as will the opening fronds of ferns not witnessed since the last warm season. Not within our view trout will hatch from eggs and insects under logs will come back to life and dispose of rotting plant material.
I have one wish this spring. I wish to see returning bats in good numbers. These wonderful creatures under siege by white nose syndrome that is passed from bat to bat in caves where they hibernate are in short numbers. Numbers so low that one has to question if many bat species will survive at all. I long to see the night sky filled with these greatest of all flying mammals while they enjoy the abundant night insect population on a warm spring evening.
Still I am full of hope. Sunny days ahead will yield flowers, green fields, and the return of migrating wildlife. Songbirds will return to chorus the beginning of each new day. Deer will return to browse on new buds and greening pastures. The black bear will wake up from its long, long winter sleep and her cubs will follow along behind for their first, wonderful taste of life, outside the dark, cool den. Blackflies and mayflies will hatch from our stream bottoms and fill the air, at least temporarily. The call of the wild turkey will permeate the early morning air as they seek suitable mates to produce new offspring. Newborn chicks of all bird species will peep in the nests calling for their parents to bring them their food. Coyote and fox pups will be born and will frolic in the sun. And although I will witness just a selected few of these events I will celebrate, with every living cell in my body, the life that this vernal season brings to us all.
Written for www.wildramblings in March 2010.