Signs of spring surround us in March

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This past week, I have watched many beautiful sunsets through the window above my kitchen sink. One evening the colors were painting the sky so dramatically, I had to walk to the end of my driveway to get a full panoramic glimpse of the sky.

My grandma used to say she could feel the seasons changing in her bones. I don’t know about that, but I can certainly see signs that spring is approaching.

Daylight hours are lasting longer, nearing 12 hours. I can also hear birdsong early in the morning. Surprisingly, it is not warmer weather that triggers birds to sing. It is because of the increase in daylight.

Signs of spring

Late one evening, my son called for me to step out on our porch. I thought he wanted me to see the stars. I was wrong; he wanted me to hear the spring peepers.

The nocturnal insectivores are able to make high-pitched sounds due to their large vocal sacs. The throaty trilling might be males maybe seeking a mate or two males involved in a confrontation. They even become more vocal after a rainstorm.

To me, however, the sound of spring peepers means one thing — spring is near.

Spring is in the air as well, which is not always a good thing. I have passed many pungent-smelling skunks who met their demise along the road. March is right in the middle of mating season for the foul rascals. If a female is not interested in the advances of a male, she will refuse his courtship with spray.

They are more active at night after sleeping the day away. Their dark fur and nighttime prowess increase their chances of becoming roadkill.

Another thing that strikes me about spring year after year is how ugly it is before flowers start popping through the soil. I don’t have a yard; I have a giant mud pit. I look at it in despair as my white dog sprints across it, throwing splatters of mud in every direction.

A closer look at the mud reveals something that I am excited about … earthworms. Through the winter, earthworms are in a state of torpor deep in the frozen ground. As the ground slowly thaws, they make their way to the surface to feast on decaying organic matter found on the surface. They make an appearance at night when it is cool and moist.

Then, the cycle of life continues when birds discover their next meal lying in a mud platter. Around here, they soon become bait on another fishing trip.

Full moon

The emergence of worms in March is so significant that the full moon is named after them. The Worm Moon will appear March 18. Many people like myself assume the full moon’s name is referring to earthworms. However, it might have been given the moniker due to larvae emerging from under tree bark and other dark places.

Different people groups have given different names to the full moon in March. The Ojibwe people referred to it as the Sugar Moon, marking the month when maple sap overflows buckets on sunny, warm afternoons.

Several other tribes chose the title Sore Eyes Moon. Squinting my eyes, I can imagine what it would have been like as a Native American on a bright day with sunlight reflecting off of the blanket of white snow on the ground. It really is a perfect name.

Quickly following up after the Worm Moon is another special day — spring equinox. The equinox March 20 marks the beginning of spring for people living in the northern hemisphere.

Celebrated

Artificial light sources in modern times dim the remarkable difference the tilt of the earth makes. In ancient times, it was celebrated and worshiped.

I added a new travel destination to my bucket list, Cancun. Specifically, I want to visit Chichén Itzá on the spring equinox. I am truly in awe of the preciseness of Mayan astronomical calculations.

Every year, on the spring equinox, a shadow of a feathered serpent appears to be slithering down the steps of the largest temple named Kukulcan. The Mayans believed the snake to be the sun serpent communicating with them.

When I realized thousands of tourists make the trek to witness the spring equinox, I changed my bucket list again. I mean, why travel to wait in the sun to see a shadow for 45 minutes when I can see earthworms wiggle out of the ground in Ohio.

It is interesting to learn about different cultures but it is life-changing to decide to be content in my circumstances.

March definitely seems like a long month, especially during years like this year without any holidays. This year, we are going to keep it lively by chirping at a full moon with the spring peepers and searching for earthworms as the sunlight hours lengthen.

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Julie Geiss lives with her husband and four children in Unity Township, Ohio. Faith and family are first in her life, but she also loves hiking, biking and camping. You can contact Julie at juliegeiss1414@gmail.com.

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