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Being a die-hard outdoor runner, I spend a lot of time in nature year-round, logging miles every month, slogging through every season, year after year.

I can tell you March is the ugliest time of year in Erie. The weather is unpredictable. Sometimes it snows. Sometimes it’s 60 degrees and sunny. Sometimes it snows in the morning and then it is 60 degrees and sunny by sunset.  You just never know what is going to happen.  It’s not at all unusual to go through all four seasons in 24 hours.

And, the landscape. Ugh. Everything is brown and drab and the earth is wet and muddy. The leaves are long gone and new ones won’t begin budding until April. The grass is not growing and while most of it is greenish, it’s the drab green of March—that ugly yellow-green crayon in the Crayola “big box” that nobody ever used—not the vibrant, lush green of May. Some birds have returned, but they are the squawky, noisy, black/brown ones like the starlings and red-winged blackbirds. The songbirds are still sunning their feathers in the south.

But there are two things I love about March:

1. The sunrises are phenomenal. I don’t know why. I’m sure there is some scientific reason. All I can tell you is that as an early morning runner, I see a lot sunrises and around Erie, March offers the best ones, hands down.

2. The naked trees. I love trees, in general, but I truly appreciate them in early spring when they are bare, bold and stark, all their secrets revealed. Scars. Injuries. Bone structure. Blemishes. Bird and bee nests.

No leaves and no snow means you can get a good look at the tree’s skeleton — the intricate branch structure that makes every tree unique. You realize every tree crown is an original and a freaking work of art.

But my favorite thing about trees this time of year is spotting birds and bees nests in them. In summer, these locations are a mystery. You can hear the birds, but you can rarely see them in trees. They are safe and sound in their nests perfectly camouflaged and cooled by all those leaves.

But, come March, all is revealed and I continuously marvel at how close they were to us all along and how their homes of grass, mud, leaves, straw and string were so well constructed and anchored that they have survived months of brutal winter winds, snow and ice.

There is beauty in everything, everyone, every season, every month…. if you just look for it.

“I prefer winter and fall, when you feel the bone structure of the landscape—
the loneliness of it, the dead feeling of winter.
Something waits beneath it, the whole story doesn’t show.”
~Andrew Wyeth

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About Just Write: Just Write is my adaptation of free writing, a technique in which a person writes continuously and quickly without little regard for spelling, grammar, or topic. It helps writers overcome blocks of apathy and explore everything from meaningful topics to mundane observations with the same effort and without the pressure of crafting perfect prose. I just start writing.