Murch: Temptations and disappointments of March

To borrow from and paraphrase Charles Dickens: It is the best of months it is the worst of months. March teases, tantalizes and tortures us; it shows us what is to come and what still is present. The third month of the year can be infuriatingly fickle and run us through the gamut of emotions.

March can be a tempting mistress and cruel jailer all in the same week. We receive a glimpse of spring, only to be shown the harsh realities of winter a few days later. By this time of the season, winter activities tend to be coming to an end as enough snow melts to make trails more mud and than snow, outdoor skating rinks become slushy and lake ice becomes treacherous in spots and venturing out becomes a challenge.

Gray is the dominant color – everything looks like it needs to be washed, a spring cleaning if you will. The snow has as much brown as it does white; a fresh snowfall would cover the dirt but would set back the arrival of green grass. Green is the color we long to see this time of year, and sunshine heightens our anticipation as the days get longer. Daylight savings time begins this weekend and later sunsets entice us to stay outside later, only to be reminded that it’s still cold enough that we need to dress in warm layers.

By the last week or so of the month there usually are places were people can get in the yard and rake, those people live in places where the sun shines better on their yard than the rest of us and melts the snow faster. Those people also find that many times the snow covers up their handiwork with an unexpected and unwanted late-season snow.

March gives us hope for what is to come, but reminds us that winter isn’t over – Mother Nature is still in charge and we are at her mercy. Some years we have days so warm we start to think of summer, not spring; other years we are reminded that it’s northern Michigan and winter can last into April. At the first sign of spring – temperatures in the 40s with a sunny day – you’ll see someone rushing the season, wearing shorts and a T-shirt … and shivering though they’ll never admit they are cold.

When I was young we lived in the snow belt, so we had more snow and it lasted longer. Many times we cleared the driveway of snow and possible ice so we could play basketball. Begging became the other game, begging our parents to let us wear lighter coats so we wouldn’t get so warm while playing. It was a game we never won – winter coats were what we wore.

For the hope of spring the month gives us, we are forced to dress in layers anticipating colder weather. Michigan, more than most states, can see its weather turn on a dime – sunny and warm one minute, cold and snowy the next. And no month, it seems, is as volatile as March. Perhaps its just a perception because we are anxious for spring, or maybe we do see climate swings more often this month. Perception or reality, we can have our spring-hoping hearts broken often this month.

As the final area prep teams play out the string in state playoffs, those who take part in spring sports are anxious to get on the field or track. Runners take to the sidewalks and streets, while high school baseball and softball players make do with hitting and throwing in gymnasiums. Younger kids are ready to take the field and start playing, too, but they have to wait longer.

So we are forced to deal with March and find a way to not let it drive us crazy. Spring is on its way, but still a ways off.

March, you are a dirty B word some times.

Steve Murch can be reached via email at or by phone at 358-5686. Follow Steve on Twitter at sm_alpenanews. Read his blog, Pardon, Me But … at