The month of March hits me like an errant wave. It buckles my knees, knocking me down. It threatens to roll me under, sucking out my breath. Each year I find myself struggling against the undertow to get to my feet again.
At least February, despite the ferocity of the cold and threats of blizzard, is the shortest month. You can hold your breath and soon you are on the other side, shaking your head to clear it and holding out hope for the warmth of spring. But instead you find yourself in March, with its 31 long day, some of which are tauntingly warm – maybe even a balmy 55 degrees. But then, to make sure you don’t get too comfortable in your longing for spring, the following day will be sure to drench you in freezing rain, or pile another 6 inches of snow on the tired-looking and dirty snow dunes that still flank all of the roads and driveways.
To be sure, this winter has been especially harsh, making March an even more miserable slog. Our bodies are weary from holding them rigid while we walk through the blowing winds, trying not to fall on the ever-present ice that lines the walkways. Complexions are pale from the want of sunshine; foreheads seem permanently creased in concentration. Even our eyes have adjusted to the dreary palette of white, gray and brown that marks winter. Once March arrives, we are longing for bright colors and gaiety.
We long for something to lift our spirits so we begin to plan. My daughters scour the landscape for signs of spring – a patch of dingy grass, the first snowdrop or crocus. My gardening friends have been scrutinizing seed catalogs, comparing the brightly colored photos of various varieties of produce. For myself, I begin to plan our summer trips – a long weekend at the Cape, a camping trip in New Hampshire, maybe a week on the Rhode Island coast. We don’t have to travel far. We just need a change of scenery, some time by the ocean or in the mountains.
When I start to plan these trips, my spirits finally allow themselves to lift. I begin to imagine a time when the sun actually warms my body, when I don’t have to shrug into a heavy coat and sensible shoes. My toes wiggle in anticipation of digging into soft sand and putting on flip flops. For me, the visions of summer vacation ground me and help me manage to get through another long day in March.