March can be a frustrating time in western Pennsylvania. Spring weather intersperses with winter temperatures, teasing residents with the promise of warmth and sun one day only to have the next day requiring winter coats once again. Buds on the trees start to swell, and if the warmer temps stick around for too many days in a row, they may even start to grow leaves before the final snow of winter falls. Other signs of spring include the return of migratory birds, such as turkey vultures, killdeer, and red-winged blackbirds. And the spring peepers, a tiny native tree frog, have been singing for several days in the wetlands now.
Warmer weather is great by itself, but when combined with longer days, it becomes a stronger lure for people to get outside. For me, outdoor ventures usually mean day trips with my camera, but unfortunately, it’s still too early for green spring growth to brighten up my favorite state parks and natural areas. Most of these places are currently past the stage of winter melt and are locked into the condition of thawed mud. It makes for dreary landscape photos even when the sun is shining.
Despite the natural world not offering much in the way of inspiring photography options during this time of year, that doesn’t leave me without any inspiration for creativity. The fluctuating weather makes it easy to tease out the nuances of what makes a day either comfortable or miserable to be outdoors, and these little differences often help in clarifying descriptions in my writing. Weather and climate can play a vital role in bringing a setting to life and can play an important part in helping to show (rather than tell) a character’s mood.
It can be difficult sitting down to write or edit when the weather outside my window turns inviting for the first time in months. But this is one of the reasons why I like to carry notebooks and sketchpads in all of my backpacks and shoulder bags. The idea of taking my laptop out into the mud-coated outdoors may bring me nothing but dread, but I can always take paper with me for writing down notes or creating a quick sketch or two.
I hope the transitional weather of this time of year helps bring inspiration to you as it does me, no matter what your preferred creative medium happens to be. And remember to take advantage of pleasant weather when you can!