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Marching... In And Out

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Carol Bossard


“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

TA-Da!!!  It is just past the Vernal Equinox and in my part of the world, Spring is here -- on the calendar as well as in reality! Spring, in Zones 4 and 5 can be quite liberally seasoned with big snowflakes, and chilly March winds, as has happened this week. We have, in some years, even experienced a blizzard in mid-April and wet snow flurries in May. But there is always the surety that these slight discomforts will not linger very long; spring, with its many moods, is here.

Snowdrops and winter aconite have been in bloom for two weeks now, and the crocuses are an amazing patch of purple by the front steps. Day Lily leaves are 4-6 inches above the ground. While we were gone last weekend, a bear came through and pulled a bird feeder apart. He must have been a fast-moving young bear, because he apparently didn’t remember where the bird seed cans were, and didn’t do any other damage. It is no wonder, with such mild weather, that bears have awakened and are traveling earlier than usual ---- and are hungry!!

Who doesn’t know the familiar old song “Easter Parade”: “In your Easter bonnet with all the frills upon it, you’ll be the grandest lady in the Easter Parade””?  There are no parades around here, but we are a week away from Easter bonnets and spring clothes, which, depending on temperatures and precipitation, may not be just the thing to wear. Easter’s date is determined by the lunar calendar, not our monthly one, and it is quite early this year.  Fortunately, Easter bunnies are like the U.S. postal system’s “neither rain, sleet nor snow will keep them from their tasks” motto; rabbits don’t mind a fresh snowfall or brisk winds, and come hopping by (candy-filled baskets in paws,?) as scheduled. Garden flowers, however, can be iffy.  Daffodils usually recover from a spring snow.  But tulips are less hardy and often sulkily wilt, just to exhibit their resentment. There will be pots and pots of flowers for Easter Sunday’s service, so that no matter what the skies are doing outside, the sanctuary will be full of fragrance and color, and a few sneezes from those sensitive to lilies and hyacinths.

The week between Palm Sunday and Easter Sunday, is called, by many, Holy Week. In our community, for the past six weeks, there have been Lenten services on Wednesdays.  This week, in addition, there is, a Maundy Thursday service, and three options for Good Friday.  Then, early on Easter morn, there will be a sunrise service at an old Finnish church up in the hills, where the winds blow and mornings are a bit chilly due to altitude.   Later, there are the usual Easter Day services in all the churches and then, perhaps, family dinners.  It is a very “church-y” week for those who go.  This quotation may not speak of Lent in a totally traditional way, but I would suggest it is one to consider, whether or not church is part of your life: In case no one has told you lately, this is a reminder that you belong here.  There is a you-shaped spot in the world that can only be filled by you.  Don’t worry about why. Just know that it is there and it’s yours.” ** When we start thinking about this and what it means, we may find ourselves dwelling in our own 40 days of wilderness.  And that time can be holy!


It is nearly time for the snowbirds to return north, those humans who prefer to not use their shovels and plows, but who sit out winter where it is a gentler climate than NYS tends to be. Some come home for Easter, some wait until every possibility of snow is past (mid-May) and some meander about the country a bit; traveling before alighting.  One couple I know plans to take a cruise to Amsterdam before heading back north.  I hope it is tulip season there.   I have never been a seasoned/enthusiastic traveler, though we have covered a bit of ground over the years.  I find that I am even less open to traveling now, in my later years.  Some of that is due to increased traffic and abysmally careless/stupid drivers on interstates, not to mention the hassles of flying.  But much of it is that I really appreciate being at home with my just-fits-me chair, my own bed and my cup of good tea in the morning. I like greeting the same cardinals, blue jays and finches coming to the feeder., I like filling the cat’s water bowl, accompanied by his meows of what happened during the night (“just look at my dish; skunk footprints all around it!”). And I hate missing events in our own community.  But, staying at home all the time can lead to being stuck-in-a-rut, and closed-minded, so a nice mix is probably good.  Travel tends to banish prejudice and change perspective, as we actually meet and find common ground with people outside our usual sphere.

We did just get back from a short trip to Vermont. One of our sons lives there, with his family, and it had been a while since we visited their home. Both the trip to Vermont and the trip home fell on nice days.  We had clear roads and could enjoy the lovely scenery. During our time in Vermont, there was one day and night of snow. Depending on the altitude, the snow ranged from an inch to five or more.  It turned the mountains into frosty snow-globes. Since we didn’t need to go anywhere in particular, we just enjoyed watching the snowfall while we were warm and cozy inside.  Before the snow, we journeyed over “Terrible Mountain” to one of our favorite places – the Weston Priory. This is a Benedictine facility, and one of their ministries is choral and instrumental music. They also carve beautiful wooden crosses, throw pottery, and make wall hangings.  We acquired a few more of their CDs (Yes, we still use CDs) and a couple of books by authors I enjoy.  While we were in Weston, we also stopped by the Weston Country Store, and the more well-known Vermont Country Store, which is based there.  After the snow, we went to Rutland, where we found some fine and fun shops, including a used-book store that took our breath away.  So traveling, this time, made a very nice break from our daily routine here in Spencer, and it was a pleasure to spend some good times with family.

Traveling anywhere else, though, must be put on hold for a bit, for the gardens already need our attention. This year, we are putting some beds into buckwheat, which will fertilize the soil and give it a rest from producing tomatoes and other crops.  The rail fence needs a new post with which to hold the dropped rails, some shrubs and trees desperately need pruning, stone blocks around our vegetable garden beds need re-stacking due to winter heaving and,of course, there are the emerging weeds.   And we probably should take down our “winter lights” that line the driveway and go across the front of our lawn.  Usually, we have more of a breather in March.  But with the unusually mild weather, chickweed is already growing profusely amid the flowers, undeterred by frosty nights.  I know that chickweed can be used medicinally, but right now, I just want to give the little clumps of snowdrops, the buttery-yellow blossoms of winter aconite, room to breathe.  So, when I can summon the determination to ignore my reluctant bones, I’ll be attacking those little green mats of flora, and removing them to the compost pile.


This is such an exuberant, expectant time of the year.  Green is emerging everywhere.  Birds are singing in the morning.  Peepers are making an increasingly loud clamor in the swamps across the road and in the stream behind the church.  When the sky manages to be blue instead of Finger Lakes gray, it is the color of morning glories.  Spring is a box of pastels, a sense of awakening and hope of the blossoms to come.  And, according to Hal Borland***, an American naturalist, “March is a tomboy with tousled hair, a mischievous smile, mud on her shoes and a laugh in her voice.”  Whatever these last days of March bring, I wish you a blessed Palm Sunday, a Joyous Easter, an inspiring spring and pleasure in each day.  As one song says, “Every morning is Easter morning from now on….”!****

Carol Bossard writes from her home in Spencer. 


*Quotation is from Great Expectations.  Charles Dickens was a British novelist and critic.  Some of his characters are the best-known in the world.  1812-1870.

**Sweatpants & Coffee LLC

***Hal Borland – American naturalist, writer, journalist from Connecticut.  1900-1978.

****Words and music by Donald Marsh & Richard Avery.

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