In spite of March’s volatile and very annoying mood swings, I welcome this month’s arrival for two special reasons. One being that March’s still-wintry trails lead to the first day of spring, the other being the long-awaited signs pointing in that direction. Assuming, then, that you’re tired of shoveling and roof raking and resurrecting the mailbox buried by the snowplow, it’s a given that you’ll be watching for those unmistakable signs and reading them with pleasure.
The most visible, of course, and surely the most appreciated, is the March sun. Tell me you haven’t noticed Ol’ Sol stepping higher, smiling more warmly and strolling longer, and I’ll tell you I haven’t noticed sap buckets siphoning sugar maples, upside-down chickadees drinking from the dripping faucets of icicles, and the pungent odor of eau de skunk. Then there’s the runoff of rains and snowmelt that starts rivers rushing to begin spring cleaning and causes brooks to swagger like boys wearing their big brothers’ jackets.
Though the arrival of robins is one of March’s most anticipated signs of spring, the likes of you and me watch for woodcock returning from their Southern sojourns. The lance-billed migrants begin arriving in this neck of the woods when March is about three weeks old. Likewise, black ducks — one of the earliest returning waterfowl — will be seen preening and feeding in puddles of open water. And won’t it be nice to see shaggy-coated deer appearing like ghosts in fields shrouded with ground fog. Not to mention seeing old friends and young faces at the coming Sportsman’s Show.
Moreover, I’m willing to bet that, in traveling March’s trails, you’ve already paused to admire a spattering of pussy willows or to notice snow fleas sprinkled like grit on slippery walkways. Better yet, we’ll soon be watching skeins of geese flying in tightly knit V formations and hearing the dawn mating calls of mourning doves. By no means, though, will those signs lead us to think we’ve seen the last of Ol’ Man Winter. Let’s face it, that diehard won’t let this month pass without whitewashing us a couple of times at least. Knowing March as we do, though, we’ll take those storms in stride and read them as signs pointing unerringly toward spring — and fishing season.
Tom Hennessey’s columns and artwork can be found at www.bangordailynews.com. Tom’s e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.