The month of March is truly a special time here in the mid-Atlantic region. Warmer temperatures are beginning to arrive, the gray skies are giving way to blue, and the dirty snow that has long lingered on the curbside is finally starting to dissipate. The sun makes a much-anticipated return. Daffodils and crocuses begin their annual emergence from the cold, winter soil, and the grass returns to a dark shade of green that was almost forgotten over the last six months. Songbirds reappear in the trees. The neighborhood once again becomes a hub of activity, as people leave their seasonal cocoons to enjoy the great outdoors, free of layers of personal insulation.
But none of that is what makes March special to me.
Okay, maybe that’s a bit of an overstatement. Sure, I love being able to get outside again (and, perhaps more importantly, the kids can get outside again), and the thought of not having to shovel anything off my driveway for many more months is definitely appealing. But for me, the real harbinger of spring is the NCAA men’s college basketball tournament (a/k/a “March Madness”; a/k/a “The Big Dance”; a/k/a “The Biggest Drain on Workplace Productivity Next to Facebook”). Nothing proclaims the end of winter quite like watching a bunch of 18-22 year-old boys run around on highly polished wood courts, dreaming of immortality.
When it comes to announcing the arrival of spring, watching the tourney is the swallows returning to the mission at San Juan Capistrano with less poop. It’s the first real car wash of the year, except it can be done sitting on your couch with a frosty beverage in hand. It’s the first mowing of the lawn, save all that annoying manual labor and grass stains on your shoes.