March Is the Cruelest Month

Spring officially arrived this week, with March 19 marking the vernal equinox. According to meteorologists, “meteorological spring’ began even sooner on March 1.

The poet Emily Dickinson extolled the arrival of March (“Dear March—Come in— How glad I am—”). But we always have viewed March as the ultimate tease. Emily Dickinson lived in Amherst, far from the coast, where ocean breezes off the still-frigid Atlantic — water temps are their coldest in March — can lower the dreaded wind-chill factor by 10 degrees even on sunny days.

For those of us who have been lifelong residents of Eastern Mass., March is the month on the calendar that we long for with great anticipation after the harsh winter season. But it always disappoints, like an object of desire who fails to live up to our expectations.

Admittedly, these past few winters have not been too tough to take, both in terms of the lack of cold and snow, which environmental scientists tell us is the beginning of a long-term trend of warmer winters because of climate change. Those milder winters have given us all the more reason to hope that March would be even more temperate compared to the past, but our hopes have been Mother Nature.

To be sure, we had some warm weather last week and the crocuses and snowdrops have been pushing through the ground for a while now, especially in the areas of our gardens in full sun. But the cold weather that is forecast for the coming week, with below-freezing temperatures every night and early-morning, is anything but a harbinger of the coming spring season.

One of the earliest memories of our childhood was learning the aphorism, “March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb.” Despite the onset of climate-change, that saying remains as true today as it was then.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *