Thursday, March 14, 2013

Breaking through

I live for March!

Okay, maybe because it’s my birth month. Fifty-seven years ago today, I was born between two blizzards, so March is in my blood.

But “they” say that, in the arts, what makes a successful work is tension between opposing forces. That’s a perfect description of this crazy, mixed-up month.

Winter keeps trying to hang on; spring keeps trying to break through. Every day, in myriad ways, the conflict continues. Water breaking through ice. Plants breaking through frozen ground. Sun breaking through clouds.

Recent days have been classic: Sunny and in the forties with bluebird skies, then, rain, snow, ice, mud. Today we had squalls that made the world look like one of those snowglobes you shake at Christmas, followed by bright stabs of sun and biting winds, through which it kept snowing. Temps inched up to nip the bottom of the freezing mark but didn’t quite make it, though if you stood in a sheltered spot, you could take off your hat and coat.

One of my favorite sounds is the roar of meltwater cascading off the hills and filling the rivers, which then bludgeon the ice apart and flood their banks in a brown-green roiling torrent.

One of my favorite sights is the first redwing blackbird atop the apple tree, scouting for open water and ground, preceded or followed by flocks of other birds returning from the tropics or vacating their winter grounds. Yesterday we had at least a hundred redpolls swarm through, moving like a school of herring in waves and ripples. A few nights ago, I heard Canada geese honking their way back north out of sight above the clouds.

My favorite of all: the first daffodil poking through the mealy snow and rotted leaf litter. It was early this year, a special birthday gift.

But what makes the month really special is the equinox. It has its equivalent in the fall, but September lacks the conflict-tension of March. With rare exceptions, such as an early blizzard or a hurricane, the summer-to-autumn transition is slower, less dramatic, than the winter-to-spring transition. You can rely on the vernal equinox to be a busy time of contrasts and constant change. Gaining back light is more heartening than losing it, so coming out of winter is just plain more exciting than sinking into quietude. March is the birth of the new year, and birth is always messy and painful.

The date one is born is luck of the draw. I am so happy to have been born in March, which gives me a Happy New Year in so many ways.

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