Spring in Montana is like a cuckoo clock. It pops out and then goes back in. And repeats itself daily instead of hourly. It starts messing with my mind and body around February. We'll go from subzero temps to the 50s in one 24-hour period. Then it goes back to a balmy 15 degrees. When you've endured a week of subzero temps, anything over 0 degrees feels balmy. I kid you not.
March is the month of wind. Constant wind. Any snow we get where I live, doesn't land here. It blows to the county to the south of ours. Or, if it's not too cold, it sticks to the side of the house. When asked how much snow we have, I check the north side of the house or any vehicle I own that is sitting outside. It's rare to get subzero temperatures in March unless you factor in windchill. I have my very own test for windchill. I go outside and stand on my little bathroom deck. I take a deep breath. If my nostril hairs don't freeze or I don't cough, there is a chance I will be able to take the dogs for a walk. The art of clothes layering is still in play.
The saying about March blowing in like a lion and out like a lamb has not held true for several years. April is almost as windy. The first week of April this year was brutal across the state with wind gusts between 60-90 MPH. It was so loud in my house, my little corgi, Maizy, needed 2 anti-anxiety pills. She was shaking and glued to me. Going outside was out of the question. I constantly look at the weather outlook on my phone. I scan for the possibility of being able to go outside without a coat. Who knew this simple thing would be so important? I notice things like people wearing shorts at the grocery store. When this happens, I know it's time to shave my legs. Soon I will get to wear shorts and I don't want to be mistaken for a guy.
Montana optimism is rampant in April. Shorts are accompanied by either a T-shirt or the ever-popular flannel shirt or sweatshirt. People tend to be happier in April. The days are getting longer, the temperatures are all over the place but manageable, and the smell of melted cow poop and sunscreen is everywhere. It's what hope smells like and it's wonderful. When I feel really brave, I stand out on my little deck in shorts, a t-shirt and no footwear and take in the scenery, spread my arms and with a giant inhale, give thanks to surviving another winter. I feel like a butterfly emerging from a cocoon or a bear coming out of hibernation. It's glorious!
I scan the mountains nearby and study the snowline. I look for any sign of green in the fields or my lawn. I listen for the birds coming back indicating spring arrival. Sandhill cranes, meadowlarks, and redwing blackbirds, to name a few, lift my spirits as they call out and I feel reborn.
And just like that, as soon as hope springs eternal, another Arctic front blows in and pops my bubble. The good thing about it happening in mid-April instead of November is I know it won't last. Warmer days are coming soon. Bubble restored. And while other places are blooming with spring flowers, I will continue to tell my tulips and daffodils to hang in there, May is just around the corner. If not May, then surely June. Flower away my little bloomers. I will celebrate when you do. Until then, we'll roll with the storms.