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The Sound of Spring Arriving

March 24, 2013

house in snowRecently, I have been home in Maine for my spring break; and while I was there, I had the opportunity to listen to the sound of spring arriving. What is that sound?

At my house, the sound of spring arriving is the drip …drip … drip of snow melting off the roof. In winter, snow piles up on the roof of my well-insulated house. But in March, as daytime high temperatures get above freezing on many days and as the sun climbs higher in the sky, the snow melts.

In some years, I can have snow several feet deep on the roof of the house by the beginning of March. (The photo above was taken in the heavy-snow year of 2008.) This year, quite a bit of melting had already taken place by the time I arrived in Maine the second week of March. Most of the snow was gone from the south-facing roof at the front of the house, and snow cover had already begun to recede from the foundation. As the days wore on, more and more bare ground appeared and even the north-facing roof at the back of the house threw off its blanket of snow.

foundation snowmelt snow on roof

This year, snow was already receding from the foundation and melting from the roof when I arrived in Maine the second week in March.


At this time of year, the sound of snow melting guides me through my days. When I wake up in the morning, the world is silent, the melting stopped by overnight temperatures well below freezing. But then, as I am sitting with a cup of tea at mid-morning, I hear it. The melting begins slowly: drip……. drip……. drip…….. Then, as the day warms, it speeds up: drip.. drip.. drip.. drip.. drip… One day, the sound stops; although patches of snow remain in the garden, the roof of the house is now bare.

Light snow cover in the Serenity Garden, March 11 2013 (photo credit: Jean Potuchek) serenity snowmelt2
Snow melt can happen very fast in March. These two photos of the Serenity Garden were taken only 4 days apart.


Except that as I left Maine last Tuesday, a  late winter storm was depositing another foot or more of snow, providing a renewal of the drip… drip… drip… sound of spring arriving.

28 Comments leave one →
  1. March 24, 2013 3:30 pm

    Wow, that is happening quickly! Today, I have one small circle of bare ground…I’m looking forward to it expanding! Thanks for a nice post!

    • March 28, 2013 10:35 pm

      Cindy, I hope your patch of bare ground has expanded. Spring seems to be arriving by inches this year.

  2. March 24, 2013 4:03 pm

    Hi Jean, we’re continuing to have cold weather here. It’s been snowing all day and while little has built up here, it has caused chaos in most other parts of the country. What’s making it all the more bitter is that by this time last year, I was well into the spring garden jobs and we had already had barbecues and eaten dinner alfresco in the evenings. Several spring plants and shrubs were also in flower too. This March couldn’t be any different!

    • March 28, 2013 10:37 pm

      Sunil, In southern Pennsylvania this past week, we have been having temperatures 10-15 degrees Farenheit below normal; last year at this same time, temperatures were about 20-25 degrees above normal. That big difference between this year and last makes this year’s spring seem agonizingly slow to arrive.

  3. March 24, 2013 7:07 pm

    The dripping here ended several times with new snow…this last week was another foot that is slowly melting…looking for the garden blooms soon.

    • March 31, 2013 11:36 am

      Donna, Spring truly arrived this weekend in Gettysburg, with sunshine and temperatures in the upper 50s. I got out and spent a couple of hours cleaning up the garden, and it felt so good! It takes longer in Maine, though, and I would imagine that there’s still snow on the ground there. I’m actually hoping to see things like crocus and iris reticulata blooming when I get back there in a few weeks.

  4. March 24, 2013 7:24 pm

    When you said sound of spring I thought for sure it would be birds 🙂 I laughed when you said the drip, I hadn’t noticed it but it’s definitely here too. There’s good news, despite all the recent snow fall the warm spring sun is making it melt quite fast. We woke up to several new inches this morning but by late afternoon the ground was beginning to peak through again.

    • March 31, 2013 11:43 am

      Marguerite, It’s always amazing how quickly these late winter and early spring snows melt. Even a foot or more can be gone in a few days. I am feeling impatient for spring, but I am also feeling the anticipation of delight!

  5. March 24, 2013 8:51 pm

    Oh gosh I am amazed that when the snow melts there will be plants that burst forth from the ground. So absolutely opposite to the tropical gardening that I practice. Thank you for your comment – I think gardening always has surprises around each corner for us! Happy spring to you!

    • March 31, 2013 11:48 am

      Snow is a wonderful insulator; so in heavy snow years, the plants can get quite a head start on their new growth while the snow is melting. Then new green growth emerges from under the snow as it melts.

  6. March 24, 2013 9:14 pm

    All I could think as I read this post is that your house has to have a very strong roof! However, all that snow must act as a kind of insulation, creating a cozy cocoon of sorts, just as the plants are snug under their own blanket of snow. I hope that spring will be waiting for you next time you visit Maine!

    • March 31, 2013 11:54 am

      Deb, Building codes in this part of the country have “snow load” requirements for how much snow weight a roof must be able to hold. Typical for my part of Maine are required snow loads of 60 pounds per square foot. I won’t get back to Maine until late April, so spring will definitely be waiting for me then.

  7. March 24, 2013 10:02 pm

    The snow has been melted for a while, but the ground is still frozen and, with the exception of snowdrops. the plants are on hold.

    • March 31, 2013 12:03 pm

      Jason, I have the sense of plants being on hold in my Gettysburg garden — although the ground is not frozen here. Yesterday, though, we had sunshine and normal temperatures (mid-50s), and I think I can see some progress.

  8. March 24, 2013 11:33 pm

    When I lived near the Canadian border in upstate NY, we heard the same sound accompanied by the cracking of ice sliding off the roof. But I knew spring was officially on its way when the ice pack on my driveway melted and I could see the asphalt. Pathetic but true! I hope your garden is soon filled with spring flowers. :o)

    • March 31, 2013 12:07 pm

      Tammy, Ice sliding off the roof sounds more exciting than I’d like. I wonder if we generally get drier snow in my part of Maine (no lake effect), which makes for less icy conditions. I’m expecting that my Gettysburg garden will have lots of spring flowers soon. Spring in Maine really comes in May.

  9. March 24, 2013 11:54 pm

    Your comment about hearing the dripping of melting snow took me back to childhood. I haven’t heard that sound since then. Enjoy your spring 😉

  10. March 25, 2013 9:33 am

    That sound is music to my ears! Especially since we don’t have a gutter up yet on our new back porch – I plan to install a rain chain – how nice it will be to see the snow melt down that! I feel so sorry for the Midwesterners today – I cannot imagine contending with another snow storm. Reading your post I realize that the meltdown will happen fast and we will be in the garden in no time! (Right? Crossing my fingers!)

    • March 31, 2013 12:11 pm

      Joyful and Kathy, I don’t think anyone who hasn’t experienced it can understand just how exciting that sound is! It means that we have broken the back of winter and spring is on its way.

  11. March 25, 2013 4:52 pm

    Well, I hope that last storm was the last storm. 🙂 At least for this year. I it must require a lot of patience to garden in Maine. Here’s to a nice warm spring.

    • March 31, 2013 12:14 pm

      Grace, We usually get at least one snowfall in April, but it melts away so quickly that you almost feel as though you dreamed it (maybe sort of like snow you get in winter??). Since this is the climate I’ve lived in most of my life, I just take it for granted. Any extra patience that’s required is offset by all that exquisite anticipation. 🙂

  12. March 26, 2013 7:52 am

    Every year I lament that Spring is taking its time arriving too slowly. I admire that you stop and enjoy the process with your keen observations!

    • March 31, 2013 12:18 pm

      Jayne, I truly love all of the northeast’s seasons (well, maybe not mud season :-|). For me, stopping to enjoy the process is the key to happiness. These days, as I walk to work in Gettysburg, I stop to examine the early spring blooms, the new growth, and the buds on spring bulbs and flowering trees along my route.

  13. March 27, 2013 12:28 am

    Hi Jean, it looks like what the climate change agents said is true, that temperate countries will have longer winters, and tropical climates will have long dry/hot seasons. Most of temperate country bloggers i read say they are experiencing these, and we here are just starting with dry season but temps already seem so very high! OMG what is happening to our world. Anyway, i always love looking at ice photos mostly because i haven’t personally experienced them.

    • March 31, 2013 12:21 pm

      Andrea, I don’t think our winter this year has been longer than the long-term averages. It’s just that spring came so early last year that normal now seems late to us. The effect of global warming that I see in my Maine garden is more freeze and thaw cycles rather than a continuous winter of below freezing temperatures and snow cover.

  14. March 28, 2013 5:54 pm

    I still have a yard full of snow. I can’t WAIT to hear the sounds of spring. They say this weekend….. I can only hope the weather people are right. I’ll bet you’re itching to dig in the dirt.

    • March 31, 2013 12:22 pm

      Jean, This is the time of year when I’m happy to be in southern PA where spring comes about a month earlier (and lasts longer) than it does in Maine. Once I’m retired, I think I’m going to plan a 2-week getaway to a warmer climate in late March/early April each year.

  15. April 5, 2013 11:25 pm

    I never thought of spring as having a ‘sound’ ?! I love that!

    Then again – now that you pointed it out, I listen for the arrival of seasonal birds. My very, very favorite are the Sandhill Cranes! Their cooing call is heavenly, as they circle so high during their migration. Nothing makes me happier then the site of the first robin of the season. Thanks for bringing ‘sound’ into spring – so cool.

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