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Taking note: ‘In like a lion…’

The first day of March seemed to completely fulfill the beginning of that well-known cliche about the month: “In like a lion, out like a lamb.” Writing the first half of this old saying in my journal last Sunday was a bit trite, but completely irresistible as winds howled, clouds filled the sky and large, fluffy snowflakes fell.

Yet, deep down, I know the arrival of March 1 means spring is on the horizon, no matter what the weather is like that day. The early days of March — whether they come howling in with bitter winds and inches of snowfall or arrive more gently, with dry roads and exposed grass — never fail to fill me with hope for spring.

To me, March 1 sometimes feels more like the dawn of a new year than Jan. 1 does. Here in the Upper Peninsula, March can mark the beginning of the end of a long, cold season. And when winter sometimes seems to — or actually does — stretch on for half the year or more, I welcome any sign of the approaching spring.

The small joys of exposed earth, dry pavement and a little bit more sunshine can be a needed boost after the long, cold months that begin the year. All those dark days in January and February sometimes have a way of wearing down our ambitious resolutions and our best intentions. It can be easy to slip back into old habits, procrastinate or lose our sense of humor as we try to make it through the frigid, dark days. But all of that starts to change as March arrives.

The days are now getting noticeably longer. Dawn arrives sooner each day while the sun lingers in the sky a bit later each evening. Snow melts to reveal the long-buried scents of the earth, humidity returns to the air. Soon, the sap will be running, migratory birds will be returning and trees will be budding. And until then, I find myself reveling in another sign of spring that is hardly natural or beautiful, but still signals a seasonal turning point. I’m referring to the joyous beige appearance — an oxymoronic phrase in most cases — of the newly exposed pavement, which is caked with dirt and salt but finally dry after months of winter.

All this activity, all these little signs that point to a beautiful awakening of the natural world, can be a healing salve for those winter blues. As the daylight hours get longer and sunshine gets into our systems, our smiles get a little brighter, our senses of humor become renewed. On a sunny March day, we might even be able to laugh about minor mishaps or inconveniences that could have been rather upsetting if they occurred during the dark days of January or February.

Perhaps best of all, gentle, humid breezes that smell like earth seem to whisper that message of boundless hope: “Anything is possible.” And I think that’s because these nascent spring days can give us the energy to renew our confidence and courage. This season can inspire us to pursue new friendships, find better ways to care for ourselves and others, take on ambitious creative pursuits, find a new professional or academic avenue, or even just encourage us to get outside and smile a bit more. And honestly, even in light of that long list of lofty pursuits, that simple final item might be the most important. It might even be the foundation for those more daring or ambitious hopes, dreams and goals. It might be why these early days of March can sometimes change your life for the better.

I’ve often found myself emboldened and energized by the sun-warmed air and gentle breezes, inspired to take seemingly small steps that have turned out to make my whole world a little better. Over the years, these early days of March have led me to connect with people who became my dearest friends, inspired me to try bold new pursuits, and take steps to change situations that were no longer serving their intended purposes.

This is a time of year that can encourage us to wake up, look around and take joy in making our world a little better, bit by bit. It’s a time of year that can encourage us to find humor and joy in unexpected places. It’s a time that can stir us from our winter hibernation mode. It can inspire us to tackle the most exciting, most fulfilling pursuits. Perhaps most importantly, it can lead us to act with a greater level of kindness and intention.

So even if March doesn’t leave us as gently as a lamb — however we care to interpret that in meteorological terms — we can take inspiration from the metaphorical lion that arrives with early March and seize the confidence, courage and strength offered by these nascent spring days.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Cecilia Brown is city editor at The Mining Journal. She lives in Marquette and can be found hiking if the weather’s nice, or curled up with a book if not. Contact her at cbrown@miningjournal.net.

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