March has become my favorite month in Alaska.
The typical response to that statement, at least in my home, is usually a groan, followed by a list of reasons to just skip over March, which I’ll summarize as “tired of winter.”
That’s one way to look at it. Certainly, I look forward to not having to warm up my truck for 15 minutes to make the 7-minute drive to work. And this is about the time when I give up on snow removal altogether — after all, it will melt soon enough.
There are other people who would argue, with varying degrees of humor, that due to the pandemic, we’re still living in March 2020. That would put us at approximately March 372nd, but I would suggest that we’ve lived through way more than a year’s worth of history since this all started. It’s definitely 2021.
Before I moved here, I would have picked October as my favorite. I grew up in New England, and on top of all the fall colors, October in New England was my favorite weather: cool nights and warm days.
We have a little bit of that during the autumn season here, but that tends to be a couple of weeks in September. And while I’ve grown to appreciate the Kenai Peninsula’s fall colors over my two decades in Alaska, I still miss the maples.
There are parts of other months that are nice, too. For example, there’s that window in June between when the trails dry out enough for mountain biking, but before they become so overgrown that it makes mountain biking not so much fun.
There’s also that stretch in August, when tourists have left and fall is just setting in.
But for me, March rules, for a number of reasons. First, we usually have plenty of beautiful snow. While I’m done with shoveling it, I still love getting out and playing in it. The cross-country skiing this year has been great, and with more snow in the forecast, it looks like it will stay that way.
But the best part about March isn’t just the snow, it’s the longer daylight hours and the milder temperatures to go enjoy it. Sure, it’s a little chilly overnight — but that just means that the freshly groomed trails will set up perfectly for the next day.
I do understand being tired of the cold. For me, it’s not the temperature so much as the number of layers your have to put on and take off to be comfortable. I think the primary benefit from several years of yoga classes is being able to stand on one foot while changing into ski boots. But there’s another way to look at it: pulling off sweaty spandex base layers is as good as any resistance band fitness workout.
Soon enough, we’ll be on to another month, and maybe that will be my favorite. Maybe April’s breakup will be quick and painless. Maybe May will be warmer than usual, or July won’t have quite as many mosquitoes. Maybe we’ll have a nice, long, pleasant fall before it starts snowing again. Maybe we’ll be skiing again by next Thanksgiving. Maybe I’ll find a new favorite month.
But right now, the sun is shining, the trails are groomed and the skis are waxed. So far, March is looking pretty good. Time to get out and enjoy it.
Will Morrow lives in Kenai. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.