Spring is nigh

The crunch of snow and ice underfoot soon will transform into the squish of mud season. The melt will soon arrive as late winter turns into early spring. The astronomical seasons — spring, summer, fall and winter — are based on the Earth’s position with regard to the Sun, complete with solstices and equinoxes. In fact, we have leap years — like this year, giving us a 29th day in February — to keep months aligned with those solstices and equinoxes. But the meteorological seasons are linked to temperature, which, in the Northern Hemisphere, means that March, April and May can be called springtime.

And we are here. With the advent of Daylight Saving Time on March 10, followed by St. Patrick’s Day on the 17th and even Easter this month this year (March 31), it’s a time of hope and new beginnings, holidays and observances. March is Women’s History Month, beginning March 1.

The Super Bowl is behind us, and now it’s time for Major League Baseball Spring Training, which started last week. Across our region, Little League Baseball sign-ups are wrapping up.

Some have written that there are five seasons in New England. There are the four we all know: Could we add a Mud Season in there?

March weather is changeable, to be sure, and it doesn’t always follow the overused “in like a lion, out like a lamb.” Promising days in the 50s — even a few in a row — can bring out the crocuses only to be shocked by a late-season snowstorm with winds and temperatures in the teens overnight. All good makings for more mud.

Our farmers know mud the best. Their paddocks and barnyard environs are caked in mud this time of year. Forget about driving up a dirt lane.

The Old Farmer’s Almanac noted that it would be on the wintry cold side through mid-February. On Feb. 2, Punxsutawney Phil, the groundhog authority, predicted an early spring.

By mid-month, our American black bears should start emerging from their dens — at least those that hibernated at all in rock dens, tree cavities or even snuggled up under a mountain laurel — with this year’s crop of cubs. Foxes and coyotes follow in the spring with their kits and pups. As if on schedule with this meteorological shift, the first lambs are born.

The brownish cast on our open fields begins to reflect a hint of green to come. The hillsides’ changeover from a darker brown is on a later schedule, after all the cold is behind us. Keep an eye out for robins. The state bird is a sure sign of spring.

To the First Robin

Welcome, welcome little stranger,

Fear no harm, and fear no danger;

We are glad to see you here,

For you sing “Sweet Spring is near.”

Now the white snow melts away;

Now the flowers blossom gay:

Come, dear bird, and build your nest,

For we love our robin best.

Louisa May Alcott

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