To my guy and our sons, March Madness means only one thing: NCAA basketball.
To folks at the grocery store it seems to mean something else: a disdain for snow.
To me, while there was a time when I admit thinking that March was indeed the longest month, despite the fact that others like January, May, July, and August also have thirty-one days, I’ve changed my tune over the years. Perhaps it was a move north so many moons ago as I sought a land where more snow blanketed the earth that helped me transition. What I do know is that it’s a month of constant change as we move from winter to spring and while I never want to see the snow melt, I equally enjoy all the hints of what is to come that slowly join the display.
That display began on the first day of March when the frigid morning temperature created a mosaic of color and form on the window behind our bed. Feathery fern fronds and dragonfly wings danced across the glass as the morning light added subtle hues to the frosty collage.
Outdoors, the female Cardinal showed off her brilliant colors in the late afternoon sun.
Even in snowstorms, the male Pileated’s excavation work never ceased.
I did, however, spy a chickadee upon a lilac who looked at the snow as if to say, “Enough is enough.”
And a Junco who seemed to admire either its reflection or the prospect of plenty of thistle seeds.
Over the course of the month, we welcomed various nocturnal visitors including this member of the marsupial family.
Other nighttime visitors were masked bandits, indeed.
One nocturnal visitor surprised me one day by napping in a hemlock tree.
But, as the month progressed, I discovered we had not one, but two, porcupines living under the barn who made the transition from hemlock to seeds as their seasonal diet changed.
Even if we didn’t see them at night, we knew by the scat they left behind that they had emerged to dine.
And every day–the red and gray squirrels made their own quick work of the bird seed.
Of course, the birds also enjoyed such offerings.
Even if their feathers were astray as they began to molt despite, or because of, the weather conditions.
Some cracked me up with their stances at the suet feeder like this Red-breasted Nuthatch who appeared to casually step up to the bar and place his order.
March also brought the turkeys back, though I don’t know why they’d ignored us for the previous two months.
The Toms’ featherless heads of blue and pink and red raised bumps, called caruncles, changed colors with their moods.
That wasn’t the only thing about them to notice and I began to pay attention to their feet for like Ruffed Grouse, they seemed to have “snowshoes” and “treeshoes” that helped them stay atop snow and stable in their treetop roosts.
As the month advanced, others like this House Finch, returned to the north country and brightened my days.
And though he’s not singing yet, the Song Sparrow also made a come back and invited others of his species to join him.
The bird seed became an important supply for all forms of life and the deer cleared their own path from the hemlock grove to the feeders.
And then one day, spring dawned!
Still we had snow, but that didn’t stop the woodchuck from crossing the deck during a storm.
I chuckled when I watched him head to the familiar corner of the barn, that same corner that the porcupines emerge from and retreat to each night and morning. Oh, and the raccoons and opossum also know it. I’m just waiting for the skunks–I’ve smelled them, but have yet to see one.
Some days I spent near water where I was delighted to find exoskeletons such as this upon the snow.
The exoskeleton had belonged to the larval stage of a winter stonefly such as this one that crossed the snow as they do.
Other insects didn’t fare so well in the weather and behind plexiglass they remained in frozen form.
Within the last few days, as the month winds down, I’ve noted areas beside trees with southerly orientations where the snow has melted and the wintergreens grow.
And though I’ve seen Robins all winter, their flock numbers have increased significantly this past week.
But still we have plenty of snow as this Tom Turkey well knew this afternoon while he marched forward with a spirit of hope in each step.
I hope you can find some spring in your steps as this month gives way to the next and enjoy the wonder of it all. For me, March Madness is really March Gladness.