By Terri White
March madness: trite, but true. No offense to those suffering from mental challenges, but I call March the “bipolar month”. Wherever I have lived in my 73 years, this holds true. You never know what kind of weather you will experience from day-to-day during March.
When I grew up in Minnesota, South Dakota, and Wisconsin, it could snow one day and rain the next. Gray skies hover over the earth. It’s the “mud month” – the ugliest month of the year. On the other hand, you might awaken to birds singing under a bright, blue sky. It’s a crapshoot, after all. Except for the bountiful evergreens, naked trees, and sopping grass with muddy pools of melting snow abound. In the shade, snow steadfastly refuses to melt. More snow than usual? Rivers overflowing with melting snow flood the areas.
Where I lived in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, the river features a high bank on one side and low on the other. The low bank butts against the oldest part of town. After decades of flooding that neighborhood, the city finally installed a permanent sandbank to hold back the floodwaters. Better late than never, I guess.
In Texas, we are flood-pros due to our shallow topsoil and solid rock beneath that. Of course, melting snow presents no problem. Those torrential rainstorms blasting through – pounding the earth with little chance to soak in – plague us. I miss those slow soaking rains from up north.
So March in Texas. Is it winter, spring, or summer? It’s all three. Of course, winter weather in Texas could be spring in northern states. Northerners dream of 40-degree weather, just to don their flip flops and shorts. Not so much in Texas. I still wear my sweatpants and sweater with my winter jacket. Usually damp, 40 degrees in Texas is bone-chilling. My least favorite weather. However, 40 degrees up north is often sunny and dry – near perfect weather for grilling hot dogs.
Our Texas March temps might rise to 90 degrees and the next day hover at 50 or 60. To wear a jacket or not to wear one? Do we turn on the heat or the air conditioning? Do we huddle under a blanket with the bed warmer at bedtime or just throw on the sheet? Will I wear shorts tomorrow or my sweats? Perhaps our ambivalent month spices up our lives. It keeps us on our toes, guessing if the weather forecast proves accurate. Rain in the forecast? When the next day arrives, the clouds just spit.
Trees may bud and grass may green in a Texas March. Or not. In our 2022 March, we are experiencing a drought along with devastating wildfires. While some out-of-zone trees and bushes are decked out in a rainbow of colors, those true-to-Texas plants have so far resisted donning their green finery.
A couple of years ago, we planted drought-resistant lavender around our screen porch. A lot of it, involving backbreaking labor. It seemed like a good idea at the time. This IS Texas. Then an unprecedented rainy March swept through – day after day after day after day. No more lavender. It rotted. Had it not been for the French drain system we installed a couple of years prior, those rains would have even swept away our backyard lawn.
Today it’s 70 degrees in Cleburne, Texas. I’ll take it. The perfect temperature – not cold and not hot. Ideal for just about anything but swimming. In the north, however, swimming at 70 degrees is common. Considering they have just lived with mountains of snow in below zero weather, 70 degrees feels hot. Not so for us Texans, but still pleasant for most other activities.
Especially for lollygagging in my screen porch, book in hand. Nothing better.