Mother was a Connecticut Yankee. I was born in Pennsylvania, but I earned my Connecticut stripes over the course of eight years of formative education in the Nutmeg State. Back then and up there, March didn’t have even a whiff of spring in it. The best that could be said of that bleak and blustery month was that it was the month before Mud Time, and after that annual assault, it would finally be spring.
My how times have changed! Whether it’s our lower latitude or the inconvenient truth of climate change, spring made its entrance down here on the Eastern Shore in the last days of February this year. The redbud splashed bright pink paint among the bare branches of trees along the highway; the daffodils in my neighbor’s front yard were already swelling, about to erupt; and if all those signs of spring weren’t enough, Eggman, my local weather watcher and spring prognosticator, spotted his first redwing blackbird perched in its usual bush and then, only a day or two later, heard his first osprey keening overhead, at least a week or two ahead of schedule. The planet’s wheel was turning not only quickly, but sooner than usual as well.
At least for us. One look at the national weather map told a different story. Our friends in California were scratching their heads about blizzards and white outs in the hills above Los Angeles; my niece in Tucson posted photos of snow in Tucson. Other good friends who live out in Oklahoma texted to tell us about life in Tornado Alley. Rain was drowning my friends down south, while college chums in upstate New York and New England were bracing for a second round of bone-chilling cold and waist-deep snow; their snow-blowers were out of gas, their fingers were frozen to their snow shovels.
But down here in the Land of Pleasant Living, we seem to have been spared all that. Nestled as we are between the Appalachians and the Atlantic, and with the Bay shielding us from the worst of the winter weather, we have found ourselves a cozy little niche in the middle of a benign micro-climate that seems unbeholden to the storms raging all around us. (I write this, you realize, in a whisper so as not to arouse the weather gods who seem to have overlooked us, and who could change all that with just a flick of a pitchfork.)
The other day, my wife wistfully said she wished that we had experienced one good snow fall this winter. There was a time when I might have agreed with her, but these days, I’m well aware of my shoddy limits. Back when I was a school teacher, I didn’t mind an occasional snow day or two. I slept in, had a second cup of coffee, and happily hunkered down with a good book. Someone else shoveled the campus driveway and walkways so I was spared the sentence of hard labor that mounds of snow imposed on us. But those halcyon days are long gone and if there were a snow dump tomorrow, there’s no “someone else” around to clean it up. I didn’t remind my wife of that; I just pointed to the buds on the rose bushes in the yard and said, “Look! You’ll have roses soon.”
There’s the old saw about March coming and going with its lion and lamb. These days, it sure seems there is a lot more of the latter than the former. That said, I guess I shouldn’t be too surprised or disappointed if winter rears its ugly head one last time before it’s time to cut the grass again. After all, the geese may be gone, but this is Maryland, not Connecticut.
I’ll be right back.
Jamie Kirkpatrick is a writer and photographer who lives in Chestertown. His work has appeared in the Washington Post, the Baltimore Sun, the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the Washington College Alumni Magazine, and American Cowboy Magazine. Two collections of his essays (“Musing Right Along” and “I’ll Be Right Back”) are available on Amazon. Jamie’s website is musingjamie.net.