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Husband, father, grandfather, friend...a few of the roles acquired in 61 years of living.  I keep an upbeat attitude, loving humor and the singular freedom of a perfect laugh.  I don't let curmudgeons ruin my day; that only gives them power over me.  Having experienced death once, I no longer fear it, although I am still frightened by the process of dying.  I love to write because it allows me the freedom to vent those complex feelings that bounce restlessly off the walls of my mind; and express the beauty that can only be found within the human heart.

Astronomy Picture of the Day

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

March


It was one of those March days when the sun shines hot and the wind blows cold: 
when it is summer in the light, and winter in the shade.
 ~Charles Dickens (1812–1870),Great Expectations

The calendar is full of days, weeks, and months.  It is also full of other things like memories and celebrations.  But one of the best things is anticipation.


In most parts of the country, January and February consist of one interminable 60-day month.  The days, while growing longer, are still short.  Winter is in full swing with all its attendant meteorological nastiness.  Finally though, February 28th (or 29th) oozes past and March makes it's appearance.  According to tradition, the month comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb.  In between, lie days of far contrast with regards to weather.  The winds will blow cold and ice will form.  Then will come a stretch of days when the air warms, the sun shines, and people begin to hope.  But on the heels of those good days, Old Man Winter will storm back with a vengeance, dumping heavy, wet snow and sending the thermometer plummeting.  Then warmth returns and brings with it either gentle showers or strong thunderstorms.  Sometimes those changes can take place over a matter of hours.  I have come to consider March as "the month that can't make up its mind."

That kind of inconsistency can be hard on humans whose only desire is simply to be warm again.

Granted, there are other things that make March worth living.  The NCAA tournament, otherwise known as "March Madness," rivets sports fans, especially those who live and die by their brackets.  In Florida and Arizona, baseball is being played.  Granted it's just spring training, but it's still baseball, although it can add to one's exasperations to watch on television as young men run around, sweating under a flawless sky while we sit in front of a fireplace while the last blizzard of the year rages outside the windows.  Daylight Savings Time, the front half of that annual pair of clock crucibles suddenly gives us daylight in the evening, where darkness once reigned.  Of course, sunrise has also suffered a setback, but we accept that because every day, that sun rises just a bit earlier.  The sun is also higher in the sky, supposedly warming the atmosphere.  Cold comfort that, while shoveling snow two days after the vernal equinox.


Oh yes, about that equinox.  On March 21st, the earth's tilt gives us a day of equal day and night, hence the name "equi," meaning equal, and "nox," meaning night.  Around us, we begin to see evidence that the earth is awakening from her winter slumber.  The grass, which has been a dull brown, now shows patches of green.  Flowers begin to bloom, first one or two, then entire fields.  Today, I went hiking on the Manassas Battlefield and was delighted to see a cluster of daffodils.  As I walked over to get a closer look, I chanced to look down to see another welcome bloom, a small white flower called simply "Spring Beauty."  Now it was a cold and windy day, but the sight of these blooms standing amongst the forest still largely wearing its drab winter colors never fails to lift the heart.  Of course, living in the DMV (DC, Maryland, Virginia) area, this is the month when the various types of cherry trees begin to bloom.  Their appearance along the tidal basin in DC has become an annual celebration, and a natural expression of unspeakable beauty.


Still, even when the snow falls, it doesn't stick around.  If the ground is warm enough, it simply melts on contact.  And if it does stick, the return to warm weather after a couple of days will take it all away.  We endure that because we know that winter is desperately flinging it's waning strength our way, and that spring will eventually win.  Around us, the world erupts with life.  Within us, the joy of life returns. 


This is the time of Easter, though that date changes capriciously from year to year.  But we regard Easter as the spring celebration, remembering that for Christians, death has been transformed to life.  We are much closer to believing during this time because the resurrection that transpired in ancient Judea is also happening here and now, all around us.  The woods, once silent except for creaking trees, is beginning to fill with the sounds of life.  Birds are singing, the squirrels are once again scurrying about, and from a million different creek beds, a chorus of cricket frogs sing their song of hopefully requited love.


Anticipation is what March is, looking forward to those days when the sun is warm the breeze is light, and our mood shifts to that indefinable joy that rises within us as we live that holy grail of the perfect day.


It is thereby unsurprising that for us, this is also a season of love.  For as the world reawakens, so are our hearts restored.
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