According to historians, the Romans named the month of March after Mars, the god of war, as it was a traditional time to resume military campaigns. They made March the first month of their year.
If you look at it, not much has changed.
The media has been buzzing with speculations about what Russian President Vladimir Putin is going to do in Ukraine. It seems that men learn little from the lessons of history. I ask, do we even seldom hear about women saber-rattling and mounting full-blown scrimmages and wars around the world? I think not.
The early settlers of our country dreaded March as a time of deprivation and many of them died from lack of food and didn’t make it to spring.
“Our life is March weather, savage and serene in one hour,” American poet and essayist Ralph Waldo Emerson once wrote. Even today, many weather forecasters, I’m sure, would agree with that assessment.
On the other hand, maybe we should try looking on the bright side, as March is also known as the month of firsts. We see the first daffodil, the first robin, and in March the swallows traditionally return to San Juan Capistrano.
“The first day of spring is one thing, and the first spring day is another. The difference between them is sometimes as great as a month,” American author, educator and clergyman Henry Van Dyke once said.
We know that March can be very temperamental weather-wise and can range from blizzards in some parts of the country to mudslides like those 55 miles northeast of Seattle, reported to be one of the deadliest in U.S. history.
According to an old proverb, if March comes in like a lion, it will go out like a lamb. That simply didn’t happen this year as there are unpredictable, fast-moving weather systems, depending on the part of the country where you live. Just last week, a tornado touched down in Roseville.
Speaking of weather in different parts of the country, we own a home in Tennessee approximately 72 miles from Nashville. The house, renovated a few years ago, remains unoccupied. We recently received a $900 water bill but the person who looks after the house couldn’t find any signs of water damage. The water department refused to do anything until a certified plumber made an assessment. But the plumber couldn’t do anything until the frozen ground unthawed and this took a couple of weeks.
In the meantime, we received a second water bill for more than $400, though the water department said they had turned off the water. Finally the plumber was able to locate the problem and reported his findings to the water department. We did not pay the entire water bill – but still much more than we expected. Then on top of that, the plumber’s bill that included labor, new pipes, lumber, paint and other incidentals ran into thousands of dollars.
Actually, unpredictable weather in March isn’t anything new. Consider the blizzard in March 1888 that struck the northeast and 400 lives were lost. Then in March 1987, a blizzard struck parts of Nebraska. Wind gusts created 12-foot snowdrifts.
I lived in Nebraska for several years and almost had heart failure every time my car tires would slide over glass like streets of ice on my way to work at North High School in Omaha. So when husband Jim, after retirement at Travis Air Force Base, decided that California was a good place to settle down, remembering those Nebraska and Massachusetts winters, I didn’t put up much of an argument.
Since I’ve given you quite a bit of depressing weather news, it seems only fair that I should leave you with a quote from naturalist Hal Borland who wrote, “April is a promise that May is bound to keep.” With that thought in mind, why not go out and plant a tree, plant some flowers, fly a kite, build a tree or bird house, or even learn to throw a curve ball.
After all, it’s April now!
Mayrene Bates is a trustee on the Solano County Board of Education.