The early days of spring separate the people who check the temperature before leaving home from those who are adamant that it is spring. No, they will not wear the winter coat—possibly already dropped off for the season at the dry cleaner, even though the temperature has again dipped below freezing and the wind chills as it whips down the avenues, finding the weaknesses in hoodies and jean jackets. Others, however, reading the low degrees on their phones, did not pay heed to the bright sun of the dawning spring. They suffer and sweat in parkas and remove scarves that then drag to the ground like burdens they are cursed to carry.
Then the rains come and everyone is at March’s mercy. Frigid, but refusing to be the more picturesque snow, the rain falls in sheets, catching the whole city off guard. Wool coats are bogged down; sneakers, only recently traded for the winter boots now foolishly abandoned in closets, are ruined. You could use an umbrella, but the rain comes in sideways, leaving skin clammy and teeth chattering. These are not the April showers with their promise of flowers, these are the last gurgling gasps of winter. The rain claws against the prepared and unprepared alike with stony talons.
Take heed of each day in March. It will try to catch you unawares. Be clever with your layers, wear t-shirts under puffy jackets, pack an umbrella on a blue sky day, sport galoshes whenever you like, and squeak defiantly across polished floors, the hideous noise announcing that you are ready.
- Visit Belvedere Castle in Central Park where the weather has been observed for over 100 years. Since 1920, weather instruments have been gauging our meteorological conditions at the park folly, so when you check the National Weather Service temperature in Manhattan you’re really getting on-the-ground details on conditions at the castle.
- The old saw about March coming in like a lion and going out like a lamb may have its origins in the heavens. The constellation Leo comes to prominence in the eastern sky around the first day of spring, and hundreds of years ago, the constellation Aries (the ram) used to host the Sun on the vernal equinox. According to the Paris Review, one of the earliest instances of the phrase can be found in a 1732 volume called Gnomologia: adagies and proverbs, wise sentences and witty sayings, ancient and modern, foreign and British. Other sayings from Gnomologia include, “Love me, love my dog,” “A good salad may be the prologue to a bad supper,” and “The higher an Ape mounts, the more he shews his Breech.”
- This season might also be known as the Time of Trash Cans Brimming with Everted Umbrellas. Sadly, Uncle Sam—New York City’s last umbrella repair shop—closed in 2000, and its venerable proprietor Gilbert Center passed away in 2017. So guard your umbrella’s integrity: face into the wind, abide by the umbrella mores of sidewalk navigation, carry it tip down in the subway, and never, ever commit the grave sin of wielding a golf-sized monstrosity.