03.01.16. It’s the first of March, even though my old Timex running watch said it was March 2nd, when I awakened early this morning in Calgary. It doesn’t really surprise me that things go awry when you’ve flown back and forth across the country, changing time zones. I always feel a bit dizzy, like I just got off one of those tilt-a-whirl rides at the County Fair, when I’ve traveled this far, this fast. Six days ago, we were having dinner on a little island in the Bow River in downtown Calgary, watching ice skaters under the fairy lights. We arrived in Vermont the next evening to a heavy rainstorm, which turned to snow during the night, and then froze into rivers of ice on the following night, when temperatures plummeted to the single digits, before they rose the next day to a slushy springtime. I like to study the flight maps at the back of the airline magazine, and see what I’m flying over on these long trips. The skies were clear after we left Chicago yesterday, and looking down on Minnesota and Manitoba and Saskatchewan, the gray landscape was pock-marked with lakes and rivers of dull white ice. There was no hint of March down there from 20,000 feet.
This morning, before heading out, we had to scrape ice off our car, which had been left at the airport hotel. The trees were covered with white frost, silhouetted against a pale pink sky. The Canadian Broadcast Company kept us company as we listened to them report on the beautiful sunrise glowing in the east, and that there had been an accident in the northwest corridor of Calgary, slowing traffic, and how the farmers in the rural hamlet of Sylvan Lake need to lock their cars and trucks due to the increase in theft. With a couple hours to go before the border, the radio signal disappeared, and there was just the yellowish-brown prairie for as far as the eye could see. We scanned the horizon for the snow-covered peaks of Glacier National Park, a sentinel at the border, back home in Montana. It’s always a breath-taking greeting.
So, now it is March. It was spitting snow when we reached the lake, and nothing seems to have changed in the six days we were so far away. It seems like everything should be different, after flying back and forth over all that Canadian territory. But, isn’t that what March is like–every day, you expect it to suddenly be Spring–but, there are the piles of old snow. I love how Ted Kooser describes it in one of his poems:
the snow is no more
than a washing
strewn over the yards,
the bedding rolled in knots
and leaking water,
the white shirts lying
under the evergreens.
Despite “the white shirts lying under the evergreens,” when we went out for a walk late this afternoon, to clear our blurry jet-lagged heads, there were the robins, singing their lovely song! Our first sighting. Yes, this is March.