I have a love-hate relationship with March.
It is a messy month of melt and mud. The snow that remains is gray and gritty with sand. The snow that leaves reveals trash and dog poop and the yard and garden clean up you never finished in the fall. Our snow retreated slowly, slowly earlier this month and then suddenly it was mostly gone. How good it is to see the ground again!
March is a month of stirring and awakening. The sap is running and that means maple syrup. As I start to get really sick of winter and know that there is a lot of mud and cold and messiness between me and spring, I focus on sugar shack season. It's my bridge between snow and spring. The sap is running in the trees; sometimes I feel like my sap starts running this time of year too, as if I'm starting to re-energize and getting ready to bloom.
March teases. There are the occasional days when you can go out without a coat, when every one is outside and almost giddy. There are the days when you look out and think you can go out without a coat only to feel a raw wind overcoming the sun. Last week I packed away the snowpants and boots, but refused to put the bin up in the attic. There is always snow in March once you think you are done, but it never lasts long.
My neighbor has a little plastic house on her porch that Kathleen loves to play in. All winter, whenever we walked by, she'd start up a chorus of "Little house, little house!"
"Not today. It's too cold," I'd tell her. Now it's March, and many days it's still too cold. Yesterday, though, I decided we could do it. We packed some snacks and our water bottles and the book I'm reading. We put on mud boots and coats and hats and set off down the driveway. Kathleen ate her snack while I fed Elizabeth. Then I snuggled Elizabeth close to keep her warm and opened Zeitoun, while Kathleen carried spoonful after spoonful of sand from the sand table to a bowl inside the little house. I love this porch and my neighbor who lets me visit whether or not she is home. I love getting outside again even if it is still a little chilly.
Yesterday we stayed out for 45 minutes, came home and took our bread out of the oven, and went back out for Kathleen's "bikey." We ran into neighbors out for a walk and went around the block with them. Somewhere during that time it got really cold. The sun slipped down just enough, the wind picked up, and I found myself shivering and wishing for gloves. "We have to go in. I'm cold. Your hands are freezing," I told Kathleen, hearing all the while the murmurings of soon, soon, soon all around me. Soon we'll come out without coats. Soon I will sit with tea or ice coffee or white wine while the kids play. Soon we'll go in only because it is already past dinner time and nearly bedtime. Soon.
Not yet, but soon.