April too soon

Fri, 04/01/2022 - 4:15am

It has seemed overall a milder winter than many. We had one big snow, but it was cleared quickly and what was left was gone in the fast-arriving rainy mild. The wind has been great, it has felt the last two winters it was even more omnipresent than before if that is possible. So I am somewhat surprised to look back and see photos from years past of more forsythia in bloom, daffodils impossible to miss, not huddling beside the wall.
They have looked like midgets, these daffodils by this wall other years, impatient, bursting open before they were tall as I thought would happen this spring. Instead, they appear battered by the wind, like the so-carefully placed trees at the B.I. Grocery parking lot, which are still pretty when they bloom and nice touches of green in summer but the rest of the year could be taken from a volume of solitary survivors, landmarks even, in other windswept parts of the country.

On the news last night it was reported that the record low for the day in Rhode Island was 4, the high 90. The weather people feign astonishment but if they have been here more than a few years they are clearly thinking “it’s the end of March.”
March never disappoints. It is not quite the longest month with its “spring ahead” loss of an hour but that is of little consolation. We have all manner of weather, and it can come in the course of a single day, rain and snow and sleet and wind and sun and a moment of calm in the middle of the
night when few will notice.
I was supposed to go away last week, yes, to the mainland, and watched with disappointment Thursday’s degrading forecast of rain, rain, and more rain, which by late Wednesday night had moderated, as I had hoped it would, to sporadic showers by afternoon which would be fine, I wasn’t going until two and returning the next day. Thursday morning I was awakened by first sun cutting through the gray or a blasting wind or both and reached for my phone to find the notice that all boats for the day had been canceled.

It was not, at least, one of the notices which drew a reflexive “what?!” The wind was slamming from the east and the opaque sky gave no indication flying would be an option. The day stayed soupy, rain giving way to fog, and the wind abated, but the sound of the ocean rolling into the east shore was so great it was disorienting.
More so was the realization it was the first time I had thought of the usual March refrain that “spring is rolling in.” It was not just an Old Timers’ adage I learned a few years ago, it was founded in science, in a shifting of pressure that did give the sound of the surf a particular quality as the seasons were sliding one to another. Normally, it is something I hear on a still night, when letting the dog out, a soft but distinct rumble flowing up from the beach.

This was different, this was the remainder of the morning’s storm, the still raging ocean keeping the boat in port and me on Block Island.
After a morning of rescheduling, thankfully only in South County where they understand “the boat’s not running” is not negotiable, I had moved my appointment to Monday, with a crazy complication of having to leave Sunday - I don’t go away often but still, to have never landed at the “other” ramp and wondered whatever happened to the Dutch Inn windmill tower, and why cars were going in what seemed the wrong direction, I really must go away more often - and come back Monday night. The forecast wind didn’t impact the ride beyond a bounce or two coming out of the Galilee
harbor but being met by a blasting cold was just one more reminder of the fickle nature of March.
It was cold on the mainland but after a lifetime on Block Island it took not much longer than 24 hours for me to have almost forgotten the layer of frigidity added by the constant, weighted wind. I tried to remind myself it was better than coming back to that same blast in the dark that surrounded the last boat home a few months ago.
And my poor valiant daffodils that had looked so hopeful, so brave and determined, are cowering, after an ill-timed early attempt at bloom. They are still so far ahead of all the others scattered about, random plantings of leftover bulbs, reminders of whole flower beds of old fashioned standards, the site of the grave of one of our dogs.
It is the snowdrops, gone by now, that amaze me, brought from an old, abandoned farmstead in Rockland County, New York, planted a good thirty years ago, protected from the east and north winds, under the forsythia on the south side of the house, never tended, always returning, poking though the snow and ice some years.
The grass looks greener than it did a year ago, the long, narrow puddle in the swale in the north pasture, a miniature mountain lake, has already been absorbed by the land, leaving a dark smudge where there had been a silver mirror. There is more precipitation forecast, those early April showers that tend out here to be a bit more a cold March deluge than the gentle rainfall of the imagination. The storm systems are all there, on the radar, moving toward us like a creature in a horror movie.

And yet, April is coming too soon, on the other side of tomorrow. The landing felt too busy Tuesday, the confusion of cars we expect to see on a turnover summer weekend starting to amass, in spring training perhaps, preparing for the marathons of waiting that are Saturdays and Sundays.

I’d like to go back to winter, or February, and have it stay just another month or so.