Earth Journal:

When All of Nature Is Wearin' the Green

by M.L Faunce

In March, nearly everything is green, or turning that way. That no two shades of green are the same is nature's great disguise and wonder.

A hint of green rises in wild rice growing along the Patuxent - frequent rains have nourished excellent paddies this year. The shiny, mottled backs of branch herring making their run to spawn are another green, and muddy creek bottoms have a slippery emerald sheen. It's as if St. Patrick himself waved a wand across the land.

But this is not even the work of wee people in a mythical land, though something magical is certainly at the root of things now. This marvel of nature, an array of greens, emerges each year around the third month when the world is half awaken, part dormant.

Look around. Laurel stands out in the woods otherwise buried in brown, and small pine seedlings brighten the drab leafy floor. A gree-tinged mallard up ends itself in the creek, dipping for submerged grasses. Wild onions spring up in bushy bunches on lawn and field. Patches of soaking sod glisten in the morning dew. Bay grasses dried golden and brittle sprout tender new shoots, and a pale olive moss covers nearby trees.

In the garden, some swear by planting their potatoes on St. Patrick's own day, March 17. An Irishman too, I for one sow seeds for early peas on that day, and if the time seems right, kelly green spinach and lettuce too.

In March, color it all verdant, the greens abound. The trailing forsythia may spill its golden arches like an overflowing fountain, but its blossoms begin and end as lime green foliage. From a distance, the willow sports a pale green haze, and given a warm day, tree frogs hide their hue in its folds while peepers announce their presence by songs that are like lullabies.

When I tell my northern friends up in Maine about this colorful scene, they playfully remind of this old saw: Northwinds doth blow, and we will have snow, and what will poor robin do? But I know it's just that they are positively green (what else?) with envy, because the month of March here in Chesapeake country is right in fashion: all of nature is wearin' the green.

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VolumeVI Number 9
March 5-11, 1997
New Bay Times

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