The wild things are on the move. Last night at dusk, I passed two skunks meandering on the verge of the road. At the Unitarian church in town, Larry Redman has set traps to try to relocate the amorous skunk pairs from beneath the Parish Hall – again. One whiff suggests they are reluctant to move.

At 4 o’clock this morning, my dogs raised a ruckus. Out on the moonlit yard a fox was dancing beneath the bird feeder, digging for kernels. Or was he digging into the mice tunnels fanning out from the drop zone – desperately hungry, or jubilant at easy pickings?

As I trudged through the heavy wet snowfall out to the mailbox at midday, I heard a most unexpected sound: Somewhere in the treetops, a robin was singing. Hungry or jubilant?

I listened intently. Sure enough, here on the second day of March, a harbinger of spring had appeared. Later in the day, two robins appeared on the feeder. Got worms? Not yet.

These ironic contrasts make March a “hill.” We’re counting down to spring, but trudging up through snow, then mud, then posted roads, and sunnier but blustery days. Then, perhaps, snow again. Then the sap flows and cold nights and warm days express sugar from trees – alchemy. “The force that through the green fuse drives the flower,” as Dylan Thomas wrote, is driving the flower. Can forsythia be far behind?

We can feel spring struggling to arrive – or are we just flexing our own wild yearnings, held in the traces of winter? We have an overriding sense of being between. We’re in the grip of Old Man Winter, even as a misguided robin catches an early flight home from somewhere southern and warm – where Orion is heading for the summer.

We brace stoically for March. On the other hand, looking ahead has a way of pulling us forward. There’s a lot to do in March that will make us feel eager, and spread creative energy and momentum. As the robins know, March is full of new things to aspire to, not just muddle through!

The school year has a way of overlapping these cycles. At my school, we do a daily count. It went as follows on Monday: It is the 101st day of school and the 75th day of winter. There were 15 days until the spring equinox, 73 more school days until the end of the year. Thanks to snow days, the last day of school will now be June 23 – after the summer solstice, the longest day of the year.

And then we’ll begin counting down to the start of the next school year – between seasons once again. The new wild things will be on the move: baby skunks under the church and foxes in my field. The fulfillment of warm summer yearnings tends to eclipse the muddy path we’ve traveled to arrive. Here on the March hill, we earn our July meadow.