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The Cruel Cusp of Spring


March Farm in Sugarloaf

I wrote this short essay several years ago. It reflects my thoughts on the “mud season” of early spring in certain latititudes of the globe.

I arrived home from work early in March to greet for the first time in months, the bare pavement of my driveway, The temperature is in the 50’s, even here, high on the Nescopeck Ridge. There is finally bare grass visible in my yard. It may be time to think about storing winter toys and tools, and preparing for spring.

   In Pennsylvania the cruel cusp between winter and spring, occurs somewhere during the months of March and April. The timing can vary greatly depending on the latitude, the altitude and the orientation of the land (north face versus south). Especially over the northern half of the state, the first few truly warm, late winter days induce a brisk snowmelt, opening up patches of ground that have been covered since December. At such times, I am often tempted to change my cranky old tractor’s plow over to the mower I will use over the green summer months. More often than not, this would be a mistake.

     Often during March, and occasionally during April, the Nor’easters roll up the coast, and bury Pennsylvania with heavy snowfalls. The promise of early spring is put off several weeks as snow is cleared. Soon the temperatures rise, and once again the streams run hard. If I have learned one thing living in the Pennsylvania Mountains, my snow blade will stay on until at least mid-April.