March brings springtime

The Gazette Opinion Staff
Published: March 14 2014 | 12:01 am - Updated: 1 April 2014 | 9:34 am in

By Tim Trenkle


In March, the earth feels as if it’s changing, like it’s a place and time in between the seasons.

In the Iowa silence, the movement begins. The farmer hears. The working man looks to the horizon. In the distance, the birds return. Color is found under melting snow. Crocus pops, tulip snaps.

The farmer has worked throughout the winter for the spring season, for raising soil, seed and livestock. Iowans long indoors are ready to burst outside like seeds from the dormant earth.

Migrations hurl across the Iowa sky. Robins bring animation to the morning silence. In the fresh harmony of growing things, the robins squawking displacement of each other reminds us of change.

Red-winged blackbirds sneak over the midnights and orange-inged Monarch butterflies sail into the twilight.

Great night-crawling worms erupt from the best soils on Earth. Little boys will gather them in coffee cans. A sign will be hung on the two-lane: “Worms. $1.50/dozen.”

Great swathes of grass will be burned to encourage new growth. Suddenly, culverts are alive with the songs of frogs.

In the sheds and garages and barns, the farmer reviews his winter work. The transmission has another year left, the gears were redone, the guts of the tractor rebored, the behemoths that plant then gather have been prepared, the chains readied, plow and seeder, grease and rag. Down the lane, the neighbor bought a new green cap, found an old red one but had another given from the seed dealer. The Christmas Chambray shirts are pushed to the front of the closet.

Soon, it’s all day toiling and into the dark nights. Say bye to your children, your spouse, your free time. Is any time free?

A time for every season and everything under the sun. Iowa feels like that.

The ice melts. Some years it seems it never will. The fishermen trust. The rural, two-lane trusts. The small town abides. The city wants to boast. The news tells of returning things, of redemptive Iowa.

Some years, the melt is forgotten. Some years the torrent drags away houses and soil, playgrounds and towns. Spring is filled with glory and worry, joy and angst, hope and prayer.

In the summer kitchen, in the basement jars, the women check their pickles, tomatoes and jam. Fresh shadow burns upon the aged basement window, and mother and grandma remember the generations that gave knowledge to save, to can, to keep the family healthy, secure from hunger.

Iowa silence animates the growing buds, the shoots of flowers and the great acreage of corn and soy that cover this hearty land, as if once it has been Eden’s own. The newborn livestock scamper into the field. Passers-by slow to watch, intent upon the energy of birth and play.

It is in March that “Howdy” is heard like a church song, an ancient but fresh incarnation. The earth warms and breezes touch us all. The smells of earth, of cut grass and new tulips whose bobbing heads and colors of laughter carry us away — these return to Iowa.

We return to each other.

“Long winter” some one of us will say but soon forget. We are a here and now people. Spring comes. In the silence of its warmth, in the sight and smell, in our Iowa eyes.

Tim Trenkle of Dubuque teaches psychology and writing at Northeast Iowa Community College and is a freelance writer. Comments:

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