Seven months into our courtship, I dropped the the man who eventually became my husband at the southern terminus of the Appalachian Trail: Springer Mountain, Georgia. It was February 1.
And according to townfolk along the trail, when he and his hiking partner made forays into towns for supplies, it was “the coldest/snowiest/worst winter we’ve seen in 50 years!”
I sent letters and care packages to post offices along their way north and eagerly checked my mailbox every day for news from him. The news sounded miserable. Daily trudges through snow shin- or knee- deep. Frozen boots when he woke in the mornings. Frozen drinking water that had to be thawed in the morning before they quenched their dry mouths. Frozen pants he’d have to knock against trees or rocks to flex them enough to put them on.
This level of cold and snow was unusual Georgia and southern North Carolina in February. Each letter I received, each weekend I drove up to a small trail-friendly town to see him, he pined for March 1. March 1 was a beacon of hope that spring would be here soon. That the days would lengthen and the sun would shine and the snow would melt and he’d be able to drink liquid water in the morning without having to thaw it first.
March 1 continues to carry that sense of hope for me every year, even though, as it did for my husband on March 1, 1996, it only torments me when it actually arrives. This week, after several days of temperatures that make me think, “Spring is coming!”, March says nope, let’s take those temperatures back down again. Let’s throw in some snow and winter weather for funsies.
I know spring will come. That’s the good thing about March, and really time and seasons in general. Spring will come. March just makes me think it’s here when it’s actually not.
Each day I look out the window at my brown garden, and I count down until my gardening vacation like a child counting down til Christmas. March does mean I can count days instead of weeks. I ordered mulch yesterday to be delivered on March 28. I daydream about the smell of fresh plants and frilly spring flowers when I can visit the nursery every afternoon (and morning if I want!) for a whole week.
Twenty-one days to go.