March is the month of returns. The biggest of all -- hard in fact to imagine anything bigger -- is the return of the sun to the northern hemisphere. That takes place next week and marks the beginning of the long-awaited season of spring. Le "printemps," in French, or 'the first of times.'
In most ways that matter spring is the beginning of the new year. The soil will warm up, the sun will dry up wet fields so farmers can plant once again. Only if the farmers can plant, and the sun makes the crops grow, will there be food for another year so that life for all creatures who depend on earth's bounty (especially us) can go on.
On a humbler, less survivalist note, the return of the sun also stirs the little flower gardens back to life as well. Last week we saw white and yellow, pink and violet crocuses popping up.
However, in some spots many fewer than planted, with clear signs of squirrel predation. I put in dozens of new bulbs last fall and tried to cover my tracks, but our latest generation of squirrel pests -- I call them 'the barbarian horde' -- found and ate (or at least relocated) about 90 percent of the crocuses.
I could use some lessons in squirrel deterrence. If anyone has any ideas, please let me know.
Nevertheless the return of those cheerful, brightly colored mugs smiling up at us on sunny mornings is greatly fortifying. And the purple flowers of the Vinca minor are also fast spreading in both front and back gardens. Everywhere else the greening has begun in what fast becomes a garden of anticipation. Color, once begun, will expand geometrically now every week or two.
The middle of March, with spring on the near horizon, also means it's time to move the clock forward. I failed to anticipate this moment with my own wristwatch and so was living in the past for several hours this morning.
Speaking of returns, I'm back too, having lost the entire first half of this month to an extended recuperation period after a surgery to remove my gall bladder proved much more complicated than anyone anticipated.
Finally, "return" is also the theme for poems in the March issue of Verse-Virtual, the online poetry journal that draws more than 25,000 page views each month.
I have three poems in the issue, a group I titled "Three Dream Poems on the Theme of Return."
One of these, as its title "Return (ii): The Sun," suggests, is about the changes we see in March. It begins.
He finds the yellow ball in his backyard
And takes it to the sea.
The others are eating cornflakes.
They're shining bicycles.
Flutes and brass gleam in the sun.
The summits are brazen, glowing from their daily polish,
sparkle and dew,
a sheen in the night, silent as ice-fall at daybreak.
(For this poem and so many others, see verse-virtual.com and click on 'current poetry.')