From the March 19, 1982, edition of the Gazette by William A. Caldwell.

Now that the tenth of March, not to mention the Ides thereof, is come and gone it appears that we’ll make it all the way into another spring, and this is not quite so blithering a remark as to warrant your hurling the paper on the floor and jumping up and down on it.

Sometimes that which doesn’t happen is the news.

Holmes. — I would call your attention to the curious incident of the dog in the nighttime.

Watson. — But the dog did nothing in nighttime.

Holmes. — That was the curious incident.

For months we had been warned by respectable thinkers that the world would end March 10 — or at least that earthquakes would reduce the great cities to rusting junk and seismic waves would drown the coastlines and California would slip its moorings and go gargling off to sea. The nine planets would be, and duly were indeed, huddled in one quadrant of the heavens, and their gravitational influence on the sun and the solar system would produce the ultimate catastrophe. Quite a few devout millennialists took to the hills that day to await the engulfing flame. I wasn’t sure who’d be around to publish it, but it would have been a hell of a story.

Nothing happened.

To the uncontrollable merriment of less creative thinkers, the planets sidled into line and heaved and grunted like the married men vs. the single men in the firemen’s picnic tug o’ war; midnight came and went; suddenly it was March 11 and the planets were dispersing, not to reassemble in that configuration until A.D. 2161. Nothing had happened.

It hadn’t?

By next morning, when a couple of starlings shouted down the chimney of the bedroom fireplace that their feeding tube on the tree in the side yard was empty again and let’s see to it, buddy, I knew that the world had changed and would never be the same again. A black-capped chickadee teetered on the windowsill and tapped out on the pane C-H-O-W in some code of its own. Around the feeder-tray stake in the garden prowled eight or ten quail and an overstuffed lady pheasant. Instead of shrieking, a blue jay purled the liquid woodwind syllable that signifies a yearning to be liked. Out on the water of the bay little ducks were playing tag, running after each other on the surface, standing erect on the water, not in it, to wave their arms and laugh at the scowling gulls. A V of geese, maybe 35 or 40, yelped past, headed north, scuffling for position as grand marshal of the long parade, and just before they vanished in the golden translucent mist two geese peeled off and circled back to their winter marsh. A decision had been made. Here they’d stay. Here they’d bring up a family.

The water itself, so very recently a gaunt moonscape of crumpled ice, looked warm, and I’ve asked painters to put into words the difference between the blue of January and the blue of now and hereafter till Thanksgiving. Some tincture of red in the water, some bloom of aquatic weed? No answer.

Sudden change in the trees. The color of spring in the hardwood groves is a congested purple. Green comes much later. Purple are the buds along the tangled branches of the beach plum, yellow are the tops of the great swamp willows, on the pussywillows silver are the aments, and they are bursting. In the lee of the houses, purple crocuses and pale snowdrops and the glint of forsythia. In the dip of Vineyard Haven road police signs notify the driver that the pavement for the next few hundred yards will be a series of bumps that will bounce him against the roof of the car and jam his derby down over his eyes.

Across the wester sky strides Orion with his shining belt and sword. Mars, Jupiter and Saturn rise and set almost together. High over the airport, a bluish Venus, but it’s moving and is a plane but now it’s dangling motionless off the sky and is a U.F.O. Somehow the woodpile on the deck has crept indoors when nobody was paying attention and has reduced itself to a midden of ashes at the back of the fireplace. In the swamps, the green flame of skunk cabbage. Across the bay, the yellow foul-weather gear of the first clammers. Along the roads, the first shy outcry of the migrating motorcycle.

Nothing happened?

This little world of ours will never again be quite the same as it was, and the changes are indeed due to planetary influence. The influence of a small planet called Earth. It is tilted so as to turn this northern hemisphere now up to the glow of the sun, now away, and everything in our lives, in all life, depends on this rhythmic stirring. The fact that it has been going on for certain billions of springtimes need not deprecate the fact that whenever it happen it’s a hell of a story.

Night, and a great moon leaps out of the sea beyond Chappaquiddick and soars away into space, and the bay stirs and breathes. Something like a tide pulses in each of us.

Something happened. Always does. Thank heavens.

Compiled by Hilary Wallcox