April may be the cruelest month, but March is probably the dirtiest. Now that all but the most tenacious snow-drifts have melted, the muddy earth has emerged under a shroud of dead leaves and last year’s trash: the dessicated detritus of a spent season.
Some of these emergent objects are grotesque, like the pair of road-flattened beavers I stumbled upon one spring, each of their freeze-dried bodies reduced to a leathery pancake of fur, teeth, and bone. Other emergent objects are more mundane, the annual thaw revealing last year’s lost balls and leaf litter. Some things that emerge when the snow melts are nearly unidentifiable, like this soggy residue where a snowstorm pulped a neighbor’s forgotten newspaper, last month’s news reduced to Nature’s own papier-mache. Many of us emerge from the travails of winter looking the worse for wear, desperate for the extreme makeover effected by sunny skies and warm temperatures.
As much as Reggie loves to sniff autumn leaves, he loves their aroma even more in spring, after a blanket of snow has allowed their individual odors to ripen, ferment, and blend into an intoxicating olfactory elixir. It’s as if snow is the best kind of time capsule, sealing away the stuff of fall until it emerges in the spring intensified, weathered down to its essential scent. In these early, muddy days of spring, my late-summer allergies often revive as the dust, mold, and pollen from months ago re-emerge as if from cellophane, wrapped and frozen to preserve freshness. What need do we have for time machines when Nature herself is in the business of cryogenics, resurrecting in the spring the very days she froze in fall.