March: One old proverb, one bad joke
What do we always think about when March comes around? I don’t mean the rain; that’s a given: the endless undulating succession of sunny days, thundershowers and soft rain that first raises and then washes away our hope for Spring. Not that. What I can’t stop thinking about are the things that stuck to my Velcro mind when I was a kid.
First of course, there’s the old vaudeville question “what day of the year is a command to go forward?” The answer, of course, is “March 4th”. Da dum! I used to torment my sister Jean with this one. Her birthday was March 4th and since she was my little sister, she (mistakenly, I assured my mother) saw everything I said to her as some form of teasing. In retrospect, it probably was.
Then there’s the old proverb. You know; the one that definitely smells like a stack of nineteenth century Farmers’ Almanacs: “March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb”. The Japanese (of course, you all know this) would say “sangatsu no raion (3月のライオン)”, but I seldom say that myself. In fact, as a card-carrying Leo, I’m skeptical about this one because Leos are all about sun, brightness, warmth, light and all the other good things that the month of March notably lacks.
Other months have a better time of it. For example, unlike March, the month of April can lay claim to a complex and edgy literary ancestry: TS Eliot’s “The Wasteland” opens with “April is the cruelest month…” Now, that’s a role a month can really sink its teeth into! But, more about that next month.
So, there you have it. March in a nutshell: a bad joke, a hoary proverb and weather you would only wish on the US Congress.
And yet: March bears within it the beginning of Spring, and all the joy we feel at the birth of new leaves that erupt overnight from sharp little green buds. No other month is so full of life and beauty, moving in a punctuated dance from potential to actuality. No other month reminds us, almost simultaneously, of the gloom of Winter and the promise of Summer.
I wrote this poem one day when I was watching the sun and rain fall simultaneously on the West Hills and trying to assess how wet I’d get if I hiked to the Pittock Mansion. As it turned out, it was sunny and warm the whole way.
It often is.
Spring arrives; with it,
a seasonal disregard
for the worst-case scenario,
as days unwind and my blessings
always outweigh my burdens.
Astarte’s crescent arcs across
the April night.
Cherry trees shiver, shake themselves;
petals floating past on Easter air.
Surviving winter pansies
glare at the world
from their altar on my terrace.
It’s a new world again;
right here, right now, every second
flooded with God’s green beauty.
There’s just no time to worry