March is a tedious game of Hangman.
_ _ _ _ _ _
Is there an H?
Is there a W?
One. W _ _ _ _ _
Is there an I?
W I _ _ _ _
It got warm last week, around sixty. Then it rained. And the day, amazingly, dawned on a landscape without snow, except for the few tenacious hangers-on. Yards and flower beds were revealed for the first time since December 26 of last year. The ground looked tender.
This is the odd maybe/maybe not interval between winter and spring. Call it Sprig, after a guy I saw walking along Mass. Ave. the other day, carrying a few stalks of what looked like pussy willows. Not exactly a sprig in the parsley sense, but the word seemed to fit. Almost spring? Yep. Half-sprightly? Okay. Coming to grips with change? True.
So I walked down to Mystic River, the same stretch I visited last fall when the rear guard of bumblebees were still visiting the goldenrod and the top of the river was a perfect mirror. We think of seasons as a cycle, and they are, but it's the half-cycle comes to mind when you're almost at the far shore of winter. Six months ago it was September. A journey ago. November... December... Then everything went dark. And white.
And now it's no particular color. The color of Sprig. The river was pewtery, the sunset was egg-yolky, the feeling was ehh, y'know. Unsettled. Like we just arrived, looking around. Muddy patches. Persistent ice. The new land.
But the Canada geese were already pairing off, sailing upriver. And mallards were, too. And that red-winged blackbird I was looking for a couple of weeks ago, it was up in a treetop, going boom-shakalakalaka, boom-shakalakalaka.