March 2021

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Sugarhouse in Snow

No less an authority than Jamie Trowbridge, the President of Yankee Publishing, which is based next door in Dublin, New Hampshire, has remarked that March is, really, the best winter month overall in New England. The days are getting longer, the temperatures are beginning to moderate, but the skiing and snowshoeing remain, the ponds and lakes are still frozen, and it is still possible to see deep into the woods, which invite you to explore them before they become dense with vegetation and wet underfoot from the active brooks and streams and bogs.

March is the equivalent of the early morning roll-over-and-wake-up-before-the-alarm-goes-off hour of each day. The light is definitely peeking underneath and around the bedroom curtains in the morning. The sap is beginning to run. A few early birds are returning to the neighborhood and issuing the occasional song. In another month they will combine into a full-blown chorus but, for now, the Winter quiet prevails, and we make noise using our inside voices. Why be in a hurry for it to be over? Bring coffee to bed. Pull the comforter up to your chin. March is still sweater weather. There are surely other sweaters, yet to be worn, that remain trapped in the closet. They need a day outdoors before the screaming T-shirts take over.

In the opinion of March, itself, it is at least as good a month as October. Yes, October has lovely foliage, until the end when it can look especially drab and brown all over. And no one is happy about an October snowstorm any more than they may be happy about a late March snowstorm, but in March it remains possible to hit the slopes, just as Mr. Trowbridge says. Nature starts to pack it in and depart New England in October, whereas Nature begins to return here in March. In October people are most likely not looking forward to Winter, but in March people are most likely looking forward to Spring. Daylight wanes in October, but, in March, daylight waxes!

You see, March explains to us, I am a season of hope! I am a season of hope.

How hard it was for me, therefore, you must understand, for me – March – to bear this awful pandemic into our corner of the world one year ago. This was not like me. I am the end of flu season, not the beginning. How could I become the beginning of pandemic if I am the end of flu season?

I look back at our misshapen world since I was here last year at this very time and I despair. I am aware of all the jokes about mud at my expense each year, but it is no problem. Really, you can blame January and February for mud season, but it is no problem. I laugh with you. You have to break some eggs to make an omelet and you have to make some mud to grow some flowers. Mud and me, we go together. I like mud. We have plenty of laughs on our own.

Oh, but the pandemic. I did not see it coming and then all at once it did. All at once it was here and I was helpless like everyone else. And everyone went home. Everyone. The streets became empty and suddenly I was all alone. At this time last year, I could not wait for April to get here. My year, 2020, was just not my best one, for sure.

Not this year. I want to tell you that if ever there were a month with a lot on its mind and plenty to catch-up on, it is me this year. If ever there were a month ready to take back what it lost, it is me this year. If ever there were a month filled with hope, I’m it – March 2021. When April gets here this year, I will have one thing to say: “Bring it home!”

I have always been glad about where I fit in the calendar (since you ask) and, yes, I suppose I think I am about the best Winter month. Among other things, it is nice to think you have a job that results in leaving a place a little better than when you started (even if it involves a little mud).

This year, by golly, that is the plan – we want to leave it a little better than when we started. This year we want to be back in the hope business!

So, thank you for your patience. And thank you for this opportunity. May I point out that it is currently 36 outside and sunny with a few flurries of snow, which makes it a great day for sledding, followed by hot chocolate, then nap.

Seriously. The best.

Tapped trees in snow
Silver buckets hang from the taps on maple trees, collecting the sap to make maple syrup.

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