The signs of spring surround us in March

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Last week I watched many beautiful sunsets through the window above my kitchen sink. One evening the colors painted the sky so dramatically that I had to walk to the end of my driveway to get a full panoramic view of the sky.

My grandmother said she could feel the seasons changing in her bones. I don’t know about that, but I can definitely see signs that spring is approaching.

Daylight hours last longer, approaching 12 hours. I can also hear birdsong early in the morning. Surprisingly, it’s not the warmer weather that triggers the birdsong. This is because of the increase in daylight.

signs of spring

Late one night my son called me to come out on our porch. I thought he wanted me to see the stars. I was wrong; he wanted me to hear crucifers.

Nocturnal insectivores are able to emit high-pitched sounds through their large vocal sacs. The guttural trill could be males looking for a mate or maybe two males involved in a confrontation. They even become more vocal after a thunderstorm.

For me, however, the sound of spring vowels means one thing: spring is near.

Spring is also in the air, which isn’t always a good thing. I passed many pungent smelling skunks that died along the road. March is right in the middle of mating season for vile rascals. If a female is not interested in a male’s advances, she will refuse his courtship with a spray.

They are more active at night after sleeping all day. Their dark fur and nocturnal prowess increase their chances of becoming road kills.

Another thing that strikes me about spring, year after year, is how ugly it looks before the flowers start to appear in the ground. I have no court; I have a giant mud pit. I watch it in despair as my white dog sprints over it, throwing mud splatters in all directions.

A closer look at the mud reveals something that excites me…earthworms. During the winter, the earthworms are in a state of torpor deep in the frozen ground. As the ground thaws, they rise to the surface to feast on the decaying organic matter found on the surface. They appear at night when it is cool and damp.

Then the cycle of life continues as the birds discover their next meal lying in a mud tray. Around here, they soon become bait on another fishing trip.

Full moon

The emergence of worms in March is so significant that the full moon is named after them. The Worm Moon will appear on March 18. Many people like me assume that the full moon’s name refers to earthworms. However, it may have received the nickname due to larvae emerging from under tree bark and other dark places.

Different groups of people have given different names to the full moon in March. The Ojibwa called it the sugar moon, marking the month when maple sap overflows buckets on hot, sunny afternoons.

Several other tribes chose the title Sore Eyes Moon. Squinting I can imagine what it would have been like as a Native American on a sunny day with the sunlight reflecting off the blanket of white snow on the ground. It really is a perfect name.

The quick follow up after the Worm Moon is another special day – the Spring Equinox. The March 20 equinox marks the start of spring for people in the northern hemisphere.

Famous

Modern day artificial light sources mitigate the remarkable difference that the tilt of the earth makes. In ancient times it was celebrated and revered.

I added a new travel destination to my bucket list, Cancun. Specifically, I want to visit Chichén Itzá on the vernal equinox. I am truly impressed with the accuracy of Mayan astronomical calculations.

Every year on the spring equinox, the shadow of a feathered serpent seems to glide over the steps of the largest temple named Kukulcan. The Mayans believed that the serpent was the solar serpent communicating with them.

When I realized that thousands of tourists were making the trip to witness the vernal equinox, I changed my to-do list again. I mean, why travel to wait in the sun to see a shadow for 45 minutes when I can see earthworms wriggling out of the ground in Ohio.

It’s interesting to learn about different cultures, but it’s life changing to decide to be happy with where I am.

March definitely seems like a long month, especially in years like this holiday-free year. This year, we’ll keep it alive by chirping at the full moon with springtime peepers and searching for earthworms as the hours of sunshine get longer.

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