March is the Hardest Month

Monday Author: Susanne Skinner

Note to Susanne’s friends, family and fans of her blog posts:  My computer contracted a severe set of viruses and has been in intensive care since Friday. That’s why her post did not appear as usual on Monday.  So here it is on a Wednesday and we should be back on the regular schedule starting next week.

Our mailbox door hangs by one hinge, the victim of a hard winter and too many snow plow drive-bys. The snow blower created glacier like barriers that frame the driveway and walks, making our house look like an arctic outpost. Evidence of a few warm days can be seen in puddles of water that will freeze again tonight. Mud season lurks just around the corner.

dirty snowman, march is the hardest month, melting snowmanNo doubt about it, March is the hardest—and some say cruelest—month.  It is gray and depressing. Not quite winter, not quite spring. We toggle between them looking for evidence that one is disappearing and the other on its way. By now we should see signs that the worst of it is behind us and for a fleeting moment last week we did.

On Thursday’s blog Aline gave us a glimpse into spring that filled us with hope and offered a brief fling with the sun—the kind of day when the temperature hits 50 degrees and you think to yourself, “Maybe I’ll put on shorts and eat lunch at the picnic table.” It was only one day, but it reminded us that spring is on its way.

Boston had a record-breaking snowfall of 108.6 inches this winter, the second largest since record keeping began in 1891. The record of 107.6 inches was set ten years ago in the winter of 1995. Perhaps this was Mother Nature reminding us of her omnipotence.

The Winter That Won’t End

These reminders surround me.  Farm stands that should be getting ready to open remain shuttered and unplowed. A forlorn Christmas bow hangs from a fence post that was buried in snow a few weeks ago. Pot holes and frost heaves threaten my daily commute and cost drivers thousands in damages as the state mourns its depleted budget for much needed-road repairs.

Homeowners are plagued with damage caused by extreme ice dams and flooding. All of us have skyrocketing fuel bills from the unrelenting polar vortex that brought below freezing temperatures for weeks on end.

Dirty snow covers the landscape and stark tree branches offer little hope that green leaves are hiding inside. The jump to daylight savings caused a disruption in my sleep and energy levels reducing my stamina for a long work day. The remnants of winter make the earth look gray and tired.

The Wrong Clothes

I don’t know what to wear. Suddenly I don’t like any of my clothes and am weary of layers, heavy socks and coats. The incredible lightness of being that comes with bright colors, loose clothing and warm weather feels just out of reach. Winter clothes remain a necessity but feel wrong and out of fashion. What looked stylish in November is now drab and depressing.

flip flop in the snow, the wrong clothesI took a leap of faith over the weekend and pushed winter items to the back of the closet and brought an equal number to a consignment sale. It felt good to take control of this small but important step in preparation for the spring I know will come.

Stores agree with me and have done away with anything that reminds us of cold weather.  Spring and summer fashions fill the racks and what remains of winter has been consigned to the ‘final sale’ aisle, looking old and worn. There are no takers.

I am starting to feel the same way about food. Warm winter stews and hearty soups need to be replaced with bright salads and grilled fish. The promise of warmer days and lighter fare tempts me into the kitchen where my spring mojo awaits me.

March Madness

March makes me restless. The house is stuffy and stale from too much winter and a heating system that worked overtime. I desperately want to open the windows and fill the house with fresh air. Spring cleaning beckons me—I bought a new broom this morning and dropped off nine bags of clothing at the Salvation Army. I need to rid myself and the house of the closed feeling that’s overtaken us.

And let’s not forget the flu, which has lingered long past its expiration date. People are still getting sick. This year the flu shot did not address that bad-boy strain that ran through offices, families and most public places I frequent. None of us escaped and the after effects kept energy levels low long after the flu was gone. We need some spring.

We’re almost there! We’re at the half way point in the month, celebrating National π (3.14159265359) Day, the Ides of March and St. Patrick’s Day. I am contemplating a green velvet cake. For some of you, the basketball version of March Madness is upon you, but for the rest of us it’s an interruption of our regularly scheduled television programs.

Let it be Spring

crocus in the snow, blooming crocusSpring officially begins on the March 20th equinox and I hope the month does indeed go out like a lamb. Given the severity of our winter and the fact that this is New England, there is a chance it will not—offering us one last in-your-face snow fall. According to some weather maps, we have flurries in the forecast.

But spring will come, as it always does. It will sweep through the mountains and the valleys; painting what is bare and brown with bright greens and delicate pastels. I will open my windows to welcome in warm breezes and new beginnings and put on my gardening gloves.

In an effort to banish the seasonal blues I am channeling my inner spring in four external directions: seeds and plantings, a little spring shopping, Cadbury eggs and the return of Game of Thrones. I am ready.

“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