"The March full moon has emphasized the lengthening daylight most of the past week, but it is the day-end glow not the moonlight that now tells the true time of year. Dusk has begun to linger and the long nights are slowly retreating. We have a softening light at sunset, no longer the cold winter light that winked out abruptly and left the world to brittle stars. Winter dusk has a sharp and icy edge, but the dusk of March begins to soften the rim of darkness.
"No season ends overnight. Change comes slowly. Winter must be melted and blown and washed away, just as spign must be leafed and blossomed and grudally grown into summer. But the hard blue shadows and the ice-green sky of January and February have now relaxed into an afterglow that gentles the hilltops and eases the valleys with tones of pink and rose. Even the blustery winds of March tend to fall away at sunset. The winter night's dark fang is somewhat dulled.
"The earth's long sleep is not yet ended, but the slow awakening has begun. The sun's warming fingers have begun to reach down to the very roots of life with their subtle summons. There is yet no urgency, no demand for haste. That comes later. But there is an insistence, which we feel at dusk, and see and sense. And one of these lengthening dusks the spring peepers will hear the summons and waken and give the evening a voice. This we know even now, as we watch the deliberate change in the slowly gentling dusk, the long light of March's strengthening days."
Hal Borland wrote a nature column for many years in the New York Times. Excerpted from Hal Borland's Twelve Moons of the Year (Knopf).