A Seasonal Flare-Up

A Seasonal Flare-Up

by Leanne Lippincott


I know God made the seasons, and man divided them into months. Still, I hate the month of March; at least, in Wisconsin.

The word “March” comes from the Roman word, “Martius.” March was originally the first month of the Roman calendar and was named after Mars, the god of war. After changing to the Gregorian calendar in 1752, March became the third month.

The Anglo-Saxons called March “Hlyd Monath,” or “Stormy Month.” They also called it “Hraed Monath,” which means “Rugged Month.”

Apparently, I’m not the only one who views March in a negative light.

Thalassa Cruso (1909-1997, known as “the Julia Child of Horticulture”) wrote, “March is a month of considerable frustration—it is so near spring, and yet across a great deal of the country, the weather is still so violent and changeable that outdoor activity in our yards seems light years away.” Right on, Thalassa!

The late poet, Ogden Nash, observed, “Indoors or out, no one relaxes in March, that month of wind and taxes. The wind will presently disappear, the taxes last us all the year.”

Charles Dickens wrote, “It was one of those March days when the sun shines hot and the wind blows cold: when it is summer in the light, and winter in the shade.”

From the above descriptions, I’ve concluded March is a “he,” not a “she.” Windiness, warring, ruggedness, roaring, and violence seem—at least to me—male characteristics.

The late American animator Walt Kelly was best known for the comic strip “Pogo.” He once asked, “What’s good about March? Well, for one thing, it keeps February and April apart.”

Some people are a little kinder when it comes to March.

Hal Borland (1900-1978), an American author and journalist, wrote a rather sweet description of the month: “March is a tomboy with tousled hair, a mischievous smile, mud on her shoes and a laugh in her voice.” (Oops. Now March is a female?)

American author and poet, Helen Hunt Jackson (1830-1885), also saw the positive side of March: “Ah, March! We know thou art kind-hearted, spite of ugly looks and threats, and, out of sight, art nursing April’s violets!”

Susan Reiner’s poem, “Spring Cleaning,” almost makes me want to embrace March:

“March bustles in on windy feet and sweeps my doorstep and my street. She washes and cleans with pounding rains, scrubbing the earth of winter stains. She shakes the grime from carpet green till naught but fresh new blades are seen. Then, house in order, all neat as a pin, she ushers gentle springtime in.”

I’ve written many poems about March. I penned this one, “March Marches On,” 16 years ago:

“Oh rats,” I muttered to myself

As I crawled out of bed.

It’s here again, like some bad dream,

This dreary month I dread.


How do I know that March is here?

It’s not a puzzle hard.

I simply look at all the mud

That used to be my yard.


As sunshine disappears from sight,

And clouds roll in like waves,

My neighbors holed up in their homes,

Like bears curled up in caves.


I long for snow that isn’t black,

For skies that aren’t so gray.

Will seeds and bulbs survive this mess

To burst to life in May?


Just twelve more days, I tell myself.

It’s really not that long.

My buried soul will sing again,

My heart will bloom in song.


For now, I’ll have to force a smile;

Pretend that all is well.

When April comes, I’ll wave at March

And say good-bye to… heck.

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