Marching on

March 1
Nope, no daffodils here.

I woke to a light dusting of snow this morning, delicately covering the muck and grit and frozen mud-puddles that make my usually straightforward  trek to and from the bus stop an extreme adventure.  The snow was just enough to render the icy patches even more treacherous than usual by virtue of being invisible. It was not enough to render the filthy sand-encrusted snowbanks any more lovely.

 

Yesterday was the vernal equinox. Where I live, however, it’s hard to get excited about that date as the start of spring. Here we are secretly just celebrating the fact that we are getting closer to the end of March.  I am convinced that T.S. Eliot wrote “April is the cruelest month” only because he never spent March in Manitoba.

March 3
To cross or not to cross?

 

The return journey at the end of the day is treacherous in different ways. By then it has warmed up just enough to turn the ice into murky pools, many of which are too large to be legitimately called puddles but not quite large enough to warrant naming as major bodies of water.  As the snow subsides, revealing the roadside litter of car parts leftover from incautious winter drivers, the pavement deteriorates into a minefield of axle-busting potholes and the occasional newsworthy sinkhole.

March 2As you might have guessed, I am not a fan of March. I will take a nice definitive snow storm over this waffle-weather any day. (I should acknowledge that in late March that snow storm is still a very real possibility!) March in my home town is a meteorological guessing game. March does bad things to good shoes and makes getting dressed to leave the house a sort of game show in which you are guaranteed never to choose the right door– or in this case, the right coat.March 4

It doesn’t help that where I work March is also year-end, with all the stress and silliness that always seems to entail. Even when I worked elsewhere, March was always a particularly wearying month. Either I unconsciously gravitate to career options with major March issues, or March itself is the issue.

For me, personally, I know that a big part of my problem with March is that its peculiar weather patterns and filthy sidewalks still evoke somatic memories of the March my father passed away. It has been nearly three decades, but grief etches itself into muscle memory and neural pathways in ways that continue to awe me. Conveniently, March is also when the Canadian Cancer Society holds it’s annual daffodil fundraiser.

In March in Manitoba, you take your spring where you can get it, even if the best you can muster fits in a coffee mug on the corner of your desk.

IMG_0422

Shirtsleeves and slush

Today’s Daily Prompt asks, “What do you love most about the city / town / place that you live in?”

It’s been a long winter.

Not that I’m complaining. Winter is a big part of the city that I live in. A big part of the constantly changing cycle of seasons. I like that I live in a place that is characterized by a blend of comfortable pattern and constant change.

One of the reasons that this has been a particularly brutal winter is that it has been too much of the same thing. Too much cold. Too much wind chill. Too much snow. Winter’s OK when the bitter days are broken up with moments of warm sun on your face. This winter has hammered relentlessly at us since late November. But today it finally felt like the worst just might be over.

Today, finally, the temperature crept above the 0°C mark. Today I left my down-filled coat at home, and went out in my fleece jacket. Today I took the garbage out in my shirtsleeves.  Today I turned off the baseboard heaters and opened up the patio door for the afternoon. The patio itself is still buried in a three-foot high snowdrift, but the air coming in felt lovely.

Today felt like spring was waking up.

One of the spring things I had to do today was put more washer fluid in my car to combat the muddy splash from the melting snow. Spring is messy here. Melting snow means slushy, mucky streets with puddles waiting for a bus to come along to splash unsuspecting pedestrians. This year we have a lot of snow, so we can anticipate a lot of slush. Spring is also all the sand that was scattered to provide some traction on icy winter streets, now piled in dirty mounds on boulevards. It’s litter–paper coffee cups and cigarette butts that were hidden under the pristine whiteness of the snow–now emerging as a soggy mess. To the untrained eye, there’s nothing beautiful about March in Winnipeg.

And yet all that muck and mess is a sign of better things to come. You have to pass through the grey slush to get to green grass and flowers. March is messy, because March is change  and change is messy.

March is, admittedly, my least favourite month. I am impatient with March. I want to be through the messy part and into the new growth of April. But I know I need to wait–need to give the snow time to melt and nourish the roots of the aspen trees outside my door and transform the grass along the riverbank into a rich carpet of green. You have to live here to really appreciate what it means to know that the bitter cold of January and muck of March will give way to the lush green of June and the intense heat of July.