POET'S CORNER by Jeff Hartzer
#022: March, 2006
T.S. Eliot (1888-1865) wrote in “The Wasteland” (1922) that “April is the cruelest month.” I believe that for those of us residing in the high desert, the cruelest month is March. March, according to the proverb, "comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb" and so far this year March has been more the lion than the lamb. Spring comes early this year. This may be the year we remember as the one with no Winter. Even the Weather Channel’s annual Tornado Week series was interrupted this month with TORNADO warnings broadcast in real time.
We are not alone here in the wacky weather. World-wide weather patterns are all akilter, akimbo, and askew. Not to mention just plain weird! Some ask, is our great-grandparents’ dustbowl being revisited? Water restrictions are in place. The price of well permits just quadrupled. Current well owners may soon have retsrictions placed on drawing from their own land’s water. Farmers in Southern New Mexico are asking for help with the cost of spring planting and irrigation.
March Madness for us in the folds of the LOBO NATION is often a joyous time. But not so much joy this year. NCAA playoffs are fun for round baller fans no matter what, but ah ... not a great year for the Lobos. If you’re not watching the NCAA stars at night, step outside and watch the Spring night sky unfold, changing from the constellation Orion to the Big Dipper. The night sky’s God of War, Mars, shines brighter in the shortening nights.
For a lot of the world in our hemisphere, March is traditionally wet and windy. For most, dusty soil would be rarely seen; thus, the saying, “A peck of March dust is worth a king's ransom.” Obviously, not so here in the high desert. It was also thought that the weather in March could be a sign of what was to come: “So many mists in March, so many frosts in May.” Another March saying: “On the First of March crows begin to search” ... for a mate. We have plenty of crows and ravens here. Now we know what they are up to this month.
“Mad as a March hare” meant that one was insane. This came from the idea that hares behave excitedly in March, their rutting season. Lewis Carroll wrote in Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, “The March Hare ... as this is May, it won't be raving mad; at least not so mad as it was in March.” Hares don’t dig warrens like rabbits, but sit in small nesting holes in the fields. At the first hint of warm weather, wild hares can be seen leaping, boxing, and running in circles in moonlit fields as part of their mating dance. Thomas Hood in “The Bridge of Sighs” writes of his heroine, “The bleak wind of March made her tremble and shiver.” Rudyard Kipling refers to “the clanging arch of steel-grey March” and Shakespeare notes daffodils can “take the winds of March with beauty.” A famous association with March refers to the “Ides” or middle day of the month of the ancient Roman calendar. Julius Caesar was murdered on the Ides (15th) of March. “Beware the Ides of March.” Shakespeare said. In our country this year we will “celebrate” the third anniversary of our glorious Shock and Awe bombing of Iraq on the Ides of March. Beware.
In astrological circles soon after the Vernal Equinox, Aries the Ram appears with mating season head butting. Fields are plowed; ground broken. Windows open without the need to turn on our swamp coolers. Trees explode in pink and white blossoms. Irises, daffodils, crocuses, and the errant pieces of floating wind-blown litter cross our bright blue skies. So let’s say Hail to baseball’s Spring training, St. Pat’s green beer, the ashes of Lent, and beware those crazy Ides of March. Write yourself a poem as we make our wide turn toward summer.
Jeff Hartzer copyright 2006