by John Holbrook

(This monthly series is dedicated to those who live elsewhere but have always wondered what it is like living at Lake Hubert during the winter)

John Holbrook and daughter Beth waiting for the
March sun to remove the ice on Lake Hubert


Spring comes hard to the Northland.While our neighbors in Iowa and South Dakota can count on many mild March days and the first hint of crocuses, daffodils, and even tulips, year round Lake Hubert folks typically regard March as just another winter month.

It is easy to understand why. The average daytime highs are only around freezing in early March. There is more moisture in the air as prevailing winds often come from the southwest and that dampness adds a further note of discomfort to the cold temperatures. The added moisture in the atmosphere means lots more snow; the wet, heavy variety that sticks to the snow shovels and clogs the snow blowers.  March is also among the windiest month of the year and that wind is usually piercing and uncomfortable.

Thankfully, there will still be at least a few pleasant days during March featuring bright sunshine, clear blue skies, and light breezes. These are days where snow will melt rapidly due to the more direct angle of the sun, and trickles of water will be everywhere. The air has a peculiar, paradoxical aroma on such days, an odor of decay from wet leaves, dank soil, and recent mud, along with a gentle fragrance of new life especially if there is a soft breeze drifting over nearby woods and fields. Such days are precious, and are a veritable tonic to the soul and body after several months of deep winter.

These few pleasant March days also bring back many aerial visitors to the area.  Bald eagles and hawks return and can often be seen hunting or soaring over any bare ground they can find. If it has been exceptionally mild, a few male red-winged blackbirds will start claiming territories along the edges of marshes or streams. Even panfish are aware of an impending change in the season as the trickle of fresh water into our lake from numerous melting sources triggers an increase in feeding patterns by crappies and sunfish. Such activity is well noted by the many area anglers who frequent our lake in March.

However, in the ultimate example of capriciousness, the month of March on Lake Hubert carefully rations beautiful days according to its own selfish whims. A few mild sun-kissed days can easily be followed by a blizzard. The newfound bare ground that has finally emerged from the long winter can be quickly covered by several inches of snow. The small amount of lake melting along the shoreline rocks is again iced over for several days, At the very time that year-round residents are most desperate for a lasting spring, March seems to take a deliberate delight in causing grief and despair. It is very understandable that many of us dare ask, “Will spring ever come this year?”

Thus, there is good reason why March is the favorite month for Minnesotans to leave the State. Indeed, airplanes are full of southbound passengers. Places like Arizona and Florida are lousy with folks from the Gopher State. And, for those of us stuck here for the last real siege of winter, March more than likely will be always be considered the “worst month of the year.”

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