The First of March


For weeks we had looked to the first of March as a transition point, the day that would move us from the month of most syllables and letters to a month of a single sound in our mouths, a month whose very name suggests steady and sturdy movement into spring.

Yet on the 28th, as February was unclasping its last grasp o us, it began to snow. All night it continued and all the next day as well, so that the new calendar page was muffled in eight inches of snow, the deepest of the winter.

The sky is flat and blank, almost identical in hue to the evenly white landscape; only a pale grey tint distinguishes sky from earth. The intervening tree line, through the fast falling snow, is only a subtly darker shade of grey, not the stark, dark thatch that usually slices the two dimensions.

As much as I was tempted to see March as coming in like a lion, I could not sustain the simile. The flakes fell so gently upon the ground, so tenderly through the air, that it was impossible to see anything but lamb fleece, soft and delicate.

I pulled on outdoor gear, including high, thick boots, and went out to explore, thrusting a ruler into the snow at different locations in the yard to measure the depth. I walked the length of the driveway and back, shuffling my feet to mark the outer edge where our florescent orange flags had tipped and been buried in the snow. The country road that runs in front of our house had been plowed, though few cars passed. In anticipation of being snowed in, we had parked near  the mouth of our driveway and thus later could make our crawling way into town.

Snow seems to muffle all sound. Walking towards the woods, I heard only a few rasping calls of a crow i nthe distance. Even my footsteps were silenced in the insulating powder. As I turned in the path to head for the bridge, I heard the snort of a deer and glanced ahead just in time to see three white tail bound into the thicket, so keen were their senses to my approach, though mine were numbed to their presence. Only deer are venturing out today, for only their long slender legs could navigate the path. Fox, rabbit, squirrel or raccoon would be buried if they left their dens or dreys.

The only movement in the woods was birds. They flew into the falling snow, their breasts pelted with the flakes, their wings wading. A cardinal’s scarlet flash lit a flame between trees; a blue jay blazed a vivid blue on a tree trunk. An unseen woodpecker tapped a rapid staccato in the distance, telegraphing a message across the ravine.

At my cabin, I shoveled off the snow from the park bench overlooking the ravine and sat, trying to make myself as still and quiet as the woods around me. I closed my eyes and concentrated on the sensation of tiny snowflakes striking my face, each piece melting on contact with the warmth of my skin. My eyelids, thinnest of membrane, numbed first, as though the shallow sockets of my eyes had sifted over with snow. Opening my eyes, I blinked against the brightness, such a contrast even in this grayness to the inky pool of blindness behind my eyes.

To be continued in my next post 🙂

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