From a naturalist's point of view, the long march toward spring begins at the winter solstice as the days begin to lengthen and the amount of solar radiation gradually increases. Of course, the low sun angle precludes any significant warming effect until late in February and we must rely on southerly winds to provide respites from the winter chill.
By March, the first calendar month of spring, signs of the season unfold in earnest as bulb plants flower, lawns begin to green, buds swell, bird song intensifies, waterfowl migrate and mating rituals are seen and heard across the Heartland, from the frenzied calls of chorus frogs to the hysterical cries of flickers and the trilling of toads. Few would argue that this month offers our first significant taste of spring but, as residents of the Temperate Zone know, winter is reluctant to concede defeat.
For winter weary humans, tropical blood coursing through our veins, March represents the final gauntlet in our quest to escape the cold, dark season of despair. While outbreaks of glorious, warm weather are usually spaced through the month, they are interspersed with the raw, damp, chilly days that slow nature's recovery. March is a dose of reality, a microcosm of life's turbulent cycle of joy and sorrow, success and defeat.