The Trials of March

– Posted in: Weather

The proverbial (and over used) saying is that March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb. In truth March is a fickle beast and comes in as it wishes and goes out as it wishes. Some years you might have the bliss of March both coming and going like a lamb . . . other years March is the raging lion all month long. I think the one thing that can be safely said for March is that it is a fickle month.

However it shall leave, March has come in this year like a lion. Snow and more snow. Wind and cold. And more snow. Had enough? March is still not half over yet. March is fickle, but perhaps the second thing this month is known for is the number of people who finally crack and go insane from the length and madness of winter. By March a person is inclined to believe that they deserve spring and are inclined to grow increasingly irrational and unreasonable when this supposed right is thwarted.

It is true. By March just about any reasonable person is ready for spring. Warm weather. Green things. But the fickleness of March does not bother me as much as some people. Mentally, I feel worse heading into winter. Then the days are growing shorter, it’s getting dark earlier and light later and we have months and months of cold miserable weather ahead. And besides, everything I intended to finish before winter wasn’t done. With March, it is the opposite. The days are growing longer, it’s getting warmer, and the wonderful spring and summer are just over the horizon. I can make all sorts of wonderful idyllic plans about what I will accomplish in the coming seasons. Optimism abounds.

From this perspective, March and April are good months. They are the months in which you can dream and appreciate that which is not yet here. By the time May and June come, reality is colliding with all of those daydreams.

So, when the snow comes pouring down in March and the temperature is still hovering around zero (Fahrenheit) I am inclined to simply laugh. Why not go out in bare feet and shout up at the sky, “Snow! Snow all you want! It won’t keep spring from coming! It’s coming and when it does you’re all going to melt! Hear me!” I haven’t done that. But maybe I am slightly mad to think about things that way.

Our driveway is turning into a frozen river. Recalling events of last year, I remember that at times of extreme wetness a spring would appear above our driveway, bubbling up fresh cold water. (We have a high water table and very heavy clay soil which makes surface water a big problem.) This little spring disappears in dry weather, but is causing our current trouble. Surface snow melt can create a small ice problem on the driveway, but we are having water problems when the temperature is below freezing. This can only be caused by subsurface water coming up–and then freezing.

The extent of the problem is amazing. The flow of water is such that even when the temperature is down near zero (Fahrenheit) there will still be pockets of soft ice and water on the driveway. The water keeps coming, spreading and freezing. As ice dams the water up it spreads further and piles higher. In a day it can reach an inch in thickness.

The smooth surface is impassable for a vehicle so the ice is broken up and removed. Next morning–there it is again! Another sheet of ice covering the driveway and this time the frozen water has piled up so high it is covering the bottom step!

Salting is a joke, and even removing the ice is an exercise in futility. The water freezes again, on the driveway, on the road. At this point we are just trying to create an uneven ice surface (break up the ice and let it refreeze) so that vehicles can climb the surface of ice that seems determined to remain until spring truly arrives.

[Cross-posted with Morning Ride In March]

About the Author

At age fifteen, Rundy decided he wanted to write for his living. He is currently working on a novel, although it is not the novel he started at fifteen. When not working on the novel, he might be riding his bike, feeding his chickens, helping his neighbors, messing around with web design and computers in general, or writing on his blog, which discusses other topics in addition to gardening. USDA Hardiness Zone: 4 AHS Heat Zone: 3 Location: rural; Southern Tier of NY Geographic type: foothills of Appalachian Mountains Soil Type: acid clay Experience level: advanced beginner Particular interests: fruits, vegetables, major landscaping, chickens and other poultry

Now, the digging and dividing of perennials, the general autumn cleanup and the planting of spring bulbs are all an act of faith. One carries on before the altar of delayed gratification, until the ground freezes and you can’t do any more other than refill the bird feeder and gaze through the window, waiting for the snow. . . . Meanwhile, it helps to think of yourself as a pear tree or a tulip. You will blossom spectacularly in the spring, but only after the required period of chilling.

~Adrian Higgins in The Washington Post, November 6, 2013

Comments on this entry are closed.

Wanda March 16, 2005, 5:52 pm

So it’s March, and it seems winter goes on forever! Snowbanks are 7-feet high and driving down out of the mountains is like participating in a Olympic bobsled run, but the crows have returned to harass the ravens, and with each thaw the mountain mists are swirled with thantalizing scents of spring. Mittens are tucked away in jacket pockets (in case they’re needed), our thumbs green-up, and the itch to plant SOMETHING sets in! “But wait…” warns Mother Nature, “winter grows old, but still he hobbles along the mountain ridges, squalls of snow billowing up wherever his cane strikes the land–and besides, we haven’t enjoyed MUD-SEASON yet.”
So much for looking to her for help!The snow is so high I can just barely see out the greenhouse windows, so I made a “greenhouse” of the last grocery store “birthday cake container” and planted tomato seed, placing the planter under the domed lid and set it in my kitchen. This is Zone 3 in Maine and winter is long. When I feel cabin fever rising, I recite this favorite verse from Adversity to shore up my spirits: “All souls pass through the seasons of life. Adversity is often thought of as winter, but after winter comes the spring with all its newness–so honor the winter, look forward to spring, and know that which does not kill you makes you stronger.”

Don March 13, 2005, 10:58 am

It’s springs like this, when I say “bring on global warming!”