By Bruce Stambaugh
If you live in northern Ohio, you know there is one sure way to tell that spring is just around the corner. Snow has covered the freshly opened daffodil blossoms. Snow never smelled so fragrant.
Those of us who have grown up in northeastern Ohio aren’t surprised by this meteorological conundrum. Snow-blanketed flowers in Holmes Co., Ohio in March is as common as horses and buggies.
It’s March. It’s Ohio. It’s just a matter of when and how much snow we will have.
March snows are notorious for being heavy, wet, and timed to dampen our spirits along with the countryside. That’s especially true after a relatively mild winter like we’ve experienced this year.
With the temperatures balmy, the sun shining, people get antsy to get out and about to shake off any remnants of cabin fever they may have contracted. And so they do.
Bicycles are dusted off, tires pumped up, and excursions on the Holmes Co. Trail begin. Gardeners are anxious to ready their truck patches and flowerbeds for the soon-to-begin growing season.
That’s when the excitement rises. Coaxed awake by the unseasonably warm winter weather, luscious green shoots emerge from the bulbs through the moist, loamy soil, through the woody mulch, and into the light.
Crocuses and a few spring beauties join the trumpeting daffodils to happily announce spring’s debut. In some areas, trilliums even dot forest floors. Of course, they are all premature thanks in part to the warmest February on record globally.
The early taste of warmth spoiled us. So when the weather returns to more seasonal conditions, we go into shock along with the blooming flowers.
Other signs of spring unaltered by the weather also appear to whet our warm weather enthusiasm. College’s annual March Madness basketball tournaments fill TV screens in the quest for men and women’s champions. High school basketball and wrestling tournaments are drawing to a close, signaling the end of winter and the birth of spring.
For me, no other sport says spring more than Major League Baseball. After all, the boys of summer are in the midst of spring training in Arizona and Florida. So it must be spring, right?
Not so fast. Even in the southern United States, where azaleas, hibiscus, iris, lantana, and poinsettias bloomed brightly, caution was the word. Citizens had to be weary of frosts and late winter storms of ice and snow, too.
Those events are rare but all too real. It’s different in Ohio and neighboring states. March sometimes delivers the season’s heaviest snowfall. The problem is the storms often arrive just in time to douse any anticipation of spring’s benefits, like being outdoors, throwing open the windows and doors to replace winter’s staleness with spring’s freshness.
After a few days of airing things out, breathing in warm, fresh air, working in the yard, it’s rather hard to return to winter’s harshness. Nevertheless, that always seems to be our plight. Only we’re back outside covering those tender plants from hard frosts, inches of snow, and biting winds.
Backyard bird feeders get restocked. We tote in more firewood to replenish the supply for the wood burner or fireplace. The hard truth is that there’s just no turning down the damper on the fickle force of nature.
Spring is just around the corner. We just don’t know how long it will be until we reach that particular junction to fondly welcome spring’s return.
© Bruce Stambaugh 2017