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Searching for Signs of Spring

March 10, 2017

signs of spring bare groundI’m a winter lover; but even winter lovers can grow weary of winter after several months. In March, I begin to search the winter landscape for signs of spring.

March is typically a weather roller coaster here. The saying is that “March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb.” This year, the lion arrived a day late. The first day of March was mild with a feel of spring. On the second day, a blast of arctic air roared in on strong northwest winds. By mid-week, cold gave way to mild air again, with Wednesday’s temperature rising to about 50F (10C). For the past two days, temperatures have been falling and the weather has featured strong winds and alternating blue skies and snow squalls as another cold front arrived. Tomorrow’s high temperatures are expected to be below 10 degrees Fahrenheit (about –12 Celsius). Meteorologists are forecasting a major snow storm with a foot or more of snow for the middle of next week.

The March roller coaster can make me feel impatient for the arrival of spring, but I know it is coming. I can see many signs of spring outside my windows. First is the rapidly lengthening hours of daylight as we approach the spring equinox. This weekend we will adjust our clocks as we “spring forward” into daylight savings time; next week, the sun will not set until almost 7 p.m.

March’s stronger sun and days of mild temperatures have been rapidly melting our snowpack. Only four weeks after our 4-foot “snowmageddon” snowfall, most of that snow has melted. Even the huge pile of shoveled snow by my front porch that I dubbed “Snow Mountain,” has already diminished by more than half.

Feb 18 March09
The snow is almost gone from the part of the back deck that I never got around to shoveling. deck snow

And patches of bare ground have been spreading along the foundation of the house and under the trees.

bare ground foundation bare ground under trees

And in those patches of bare ground, I can see new foliage of strawberries (Fragaria virginiana) and hardy geraniums (Geranium x cantabrigiense).

strawberry foliage geranium foliage
crocus foliage In the fall, I looked forward to spring by planting hundreds of crocus bulbs. The first foliage of those crocuses has begun to appear, promising that March’s roller coaster will give way to flowers in April.
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9 Comments leave one →
  1. March 11, 2017 8:27 pm

    Mother Nature seems to have a nasty sense of humor sometimes. I heard that the East coast was in for some tough weather this weekend. I hope she takes it easy on you. Meanwhile, we’re getting a touch of summer with temperatures reaching up near 90F and the regular rainstorms we enjoyed earlier now appear a thing of the past.

    • March 12, 2017 9:48 pm

      Kris, We had super-cold weather this weekend (I haven’t been out of the house since Friday) and are expecting more than a foot of new snow mid-week. Mid-march snowstorms are not unusual here, and we usually get at least a little snow in April. I’m hoping that this week’s storm will be winter’s last serious blast. I’m definitely ready for spring-like temperatures and melting.

  2. March 12, 2017 11:52 am

    I always remember looking for signs of spring when I lived in the north. March was usually an exciting month as the crocuses bloomed and daffodil leaves began to poke through the earth and the snow melted away. We’ve had an exceptionally early spring here in SC but Mother Nature served us a blow last night with a light snow fall and the promise of nights in the 20’s this week. My yard is an array of sheets and blankets — my effort to save what I can!

    • March 12, 2017 9:50 pm

      Kathy, I usually find myself doing the sheets and blankets thing in the fall, hoping to save my late-blooming flowers from frost. I hope you were able to save all your plants from this unseasonable cold. I’m grateful that most of my garden is still tucked in under an insulating blanket of snow.

  3. March 12, 2017 12:42 pm

    Hello Jean, I can’t get over the huge pile of snow, almost as tall as the house. We’re in “moody March” where the weather swings from warm and sublime to cold and wet and back again. The Magnolias and Camellias are opening up and our crocuses are already finishing, the season is well underway for us but I know you’re not far behind. We’ll be even by late April/early May.

    • March 12, 2017 9:53 pm

      Sunil, We have serious snow in Maine. That huge pile was the largest of several big piles that were created when I had 4 feet of snow shoveled off the roof. But, you’re right, our spring is slow to arrive and then goes by in a flash. I may not catch up with your season by late April, but certainly by late May (which is when lilacs and irises bloom).

  4. March 13, 2017 4:03 pm

    My 88 year old Mother who claims to love WInter was looking forward to Spring too. The predicted blizzard this week has left her sounding a bit annoyed. From the warmth of Georgia, I wish she had taken my invitation to spend the WInter with us. She is very patient and looks to the same promise a you, refusing to let the blips of March lessen her hopes for SPring.

    • March 14, 2017 11:47 am

      Jayne, I completely understand your mother’s attitude about this storm. A blizzard in January or February is exciting, a winter adventure; a blizzard in March is just annoying.

  5. debsgarden permalink
    March 15, 2017 12:17 am

    Hi Jean, by now are you buried under snow again? We are expecting temps down into the mid-20s tonight and tomorrow night, just enough to zap all my spring flowers! No snow, however, and by early next week we will be into the mid-70s. Spring will find you eventually!

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