When March comes, some places get songbirds.
Some get the first hints of green and an early flower or two.
Some blessed spots even get the sounds of baseball – a refrain growing since dismal, bleak February – and a promise that The Season with its infinite possibilities will soon arrive.
And then there’s Longmont. We get Paul Revere of the Yukon, on every channel.
“The blizzards are coming! The blizzards are coming!”
It’s not that they’re always wrong. It might be easier if they were. But we know that March is Longmont’s snowiest month. We know that sudden snowfalls and paralyzing drifts can happen. We know that entire weekends, even entire weeks, can be set to the drone of the snow blower and the groan of the snow shoveler.
And so, we prepare. Maybe with a cynical chuckle and a roll of the eyes, but we prepare. And when the snowstorm turns out to be staggeringly ordinary or even non-existent, we nod, and sigh, and say “Those forecasters.”
Because we know the times that we don’t prepare, the times that we decide it’s all bunk, maybe even the times that the forecasters themselves don’t take it seriously – that will be when Suzie Snowflake holds a debutante ball over half the Front Range.
And now we know what it means to be as mad as a March Hare. The dang rabbit has gone insane from trying to make weekend driving plans.
But it’s not without benefit. Each year, we learn a very particular set of skills (with apologies to Liam Neeson). We learn to stay on the alert without staying paralyzed. To weigh possibilities and gauge best-case and worst-case scenarios. And when the need arises, we learn how to buckle down, do the job, and watch out for our neighbor.
In short, we learn one of the most relevant skill sets there is these days.
We have a lot of things claiming to be emergencies these days. Some truly are urgent. Some are important, but magnified and distorted. And some … some exist strictly in the mind of the proclaimer, exuding an accuracy and trustworthiness that make Chicken Little and The Boy Who Cried Wolf look like Willard Scott.
That’s where we need to listen with a mind trained by March.
No one can respond to all the alarm bells. No one can ignore every one either. And so, if we’re smart, we greet them with a mix of wariness and preparation. What do the facts say, not just the images? What’s the cost of acting? Of not acting? What’s the smart action, not just the popular one?
It’s not easy. It means reining in instincts that go back to the Stone Age, urging us to move into action at the slightest hint of danger. But it also means that we don’t live half-ready to spring, with a tension that seeps into everything we do. Perspective doesn’t just dial up preparation, it dials down stress.
And when that happens, we’re not just ready to help ourselves and our community. We’re ready to find joy in it.
Yes, a sudden snowstorm requires work and caution (PLEASE be careful on the roads!), and assistance to others. It also transforms expectations, turning a world we’ve seen a thousand times into something new. Even beautiful. It muffles, forcing us to pause in our regular lives, to draw inward for a bit and contemplate.
And around here, it remains the truest sign we have that spring is just around the corner. At least until we hear the crack of the bat and the promise that this year, the Rockies are going to win it all.
Whether that’s a true forecast, or just one more snow job, I leave up to you.