Yesterday I was looking out of one of the side windows in the living room. It was a beautiful sunny day, but the tree limbs were bending and waving in the cold wind. It was about 20 degrees outside, but with that wind, it felt like 20 below zero.
Shivering, I pulled on another sweater. Since Dad moved in with us a few days ago, I have been hoping for a warmish day when I can take him out for a ride. But it just hasn’t been warm enough, so we all are still hunkering down and bundling up.
And then I saw it—a fat and beautiful robin flew by the window and perched on the fence. I’m sure he was eyeing the bare patches in the snow, dreaming of fat juicy worms to dig up sooner or later. He didn’t know it, but he was my much-needed harbinger of spring.
March in the Northeast is a vicious clown; it plays with your hopes of warm weather by teasing you with a few fairly good days. Then, when your hopes are up, it cruelly smacks you with strong and bitterly cold winds. It shakes the tree branches just for fun, and, if that weren’t enough, it’s apt to dump a foot or so of fresh snow on the ground just for the hell of it.
The word “fickle” doesn’t even cover the mayhem and sheer cruddyness of March. One day can be balmy and beautiful, and the next will bring snow and freezing gusts of wind. The day after that, the snow will melt, meaning that in the night it will all freeze over. Just a peachy time of year.
But then, there are the robins. They always bring me hope in March, knowing that the Earth is slowly turning its face closer to the sun. There can’t be much more winter left at this point.
The robins know this first before we do. It won’t be long until the bluebirds show up, along with the much-beloved blue herons (my favorite of all birds), the red-winged blackbirds scouting out future nest sites along the pond, the tiny gold finches and the little brown sparrows, and the magnificent cardinals with their repertoire of gorgeous songs.
Spring is just as inexorable as March; it will come and be damned to winter for another year. The crocuses, snow drops, lily of the valley, lilacs, hydrangeas, daffodils, peonies, roses, forsythia, irises; all are patiently waiting in the cold ground to pop up into spring sunshine.
Our eight raised beds are already getting themselves ready for seeds, and our compost pile is full of all the good stuff that makes rich nourishing loam. The tomato cages that the Crankee Yankee built years ago are all ready to go into the garden. The tomatoes will shoot up to incredible heights, protected by these cages.
The tomatoes will soon be followed by tiny and sweet cucumbers, hiding in the twisty spirals of their vines. The pea plants will be ready to climb the wire fences with their delicate green fingers. Our two mint bushes will spring up just in time for us to dream of iced tea freshened with crushed mint leaves. All this is prelude to corn, beets, radishes, herbs and lettuces.
March doesn’t know it just yet, but sweet April is just around the corner. I swear it’s true—the robin told me so.