Miscellany / Seasons / The Land

March Hill

The wild things are on the move. Last night
during the lunar eclipse I passed two skunks
meandering on the verge of the road at dusk. At the
Unitarian church in town, Larry Redman has set out the
traps to try and relocate the amorous skunk pairs from
beneath the Parish Hall—again. He gets $30 per skunk.
One whiff suggests they are reluctant to move.

At 4:00 am this morning my dogs raised a ruckus.
Out on the moonlit yard a fox was dancing beneath the
sunflower seed bird feeder, digging for kernals. Or was
he digging into the mice tunnels fanning out from the
feeder drop zone? Was he desperately hungry, or
jubilant at easy pickings?

Friday was a snow day from school, and as I
trudged through the heavy wet snowfall out to the
mailbox at mid-day, and paused in the cold, I heard a
most unexpected, unmistakable sound. From
somewhere in the treetops a robin was singing. Hungry
or jubilant?

I listened intently for a few minutes. Sure enough,
here on the second day of March, and the third snow
day from school, with the winter storm warning not due
to expire for another few hours, a harbinger of spring
had appeared. Later in the day, two robins appeared on
the feeder. Got worms? Not for a while.

These ironic contrasts and tensions make March a
“hill.” We’re counting down to spring, but trudging up
through snow, then mud, then posted roads, and sunnier
but blustery days. Then, perhaps, snow again. Then the
sap starts to flow and the cold nights and warm days
express sugar from trees—what alchemy. “The force
that through the green fuse drives the flower,” as Dylan
Thomas wrote, is driving the flower. Can forsythia be
far behind?

We can begin to feel spring struggling to arrive—
or is that feeling really just the flexing of our own wild
yearnings, still held in the traces of winter? We have an
overriding sense of being between. We’re in the grip of
Old Man Winter, even as a crazy, misguided robin
catches an early flight home from somewhere southern
and warm…where Orion is heading for the summer.
I find myself bracing stoically for March. On the
other hand, I feel that looking ahead, when it’s
grounded in aspiration, has a way of pulling me
forward. There’s a lot to do in March that will make us
feel eager, and spread creative energy and momentum.
March is full of new things to aspire to, rather than
muddle through! The robins must know that.

The school year has a way of layering and
overlapping these cycles. At my school, we have a daily
morning meeting where we do a daily count. It went as
follows on Monday: It is the one hundred-tenth day of
school and the 75th day of winter. There were 15 days
until the spring equinox, 65 more school days this year,
and 42 more weeks until the end of the year. Thanks to
the snow day, the last day of school will now be June
18—three days before the summer solstice, the longest
day of the year.

And then we’ll begin counting down the 79 days
until the start of the next school year—between school
seasons once again, while savoring the height of the
celestial one we’ll be in at the time. The new wild
things will be on the move: baby skunks under the
church and foxes in my field. The fulfillment of warm
summer aspirations and yearnings tend to eclipse the
muddy path we’ve taken to arrive. On March hill we
earn our July meadow.

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