March 2017 Almanac

By Ash Alder

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.

–Charles Dickens, Great Expectations

Worms on the March

March is here and the world begins to soften. Some six feet underground, the earthworms are thawing, and when their first castings reappear in the dormant garden, so, too, will the robin. You’ll hear his mirthful, rhythmic song on an otherwise ordinary morning, pastel light filtering through the kitchen window where the sleeping cat stretches out his toes and, slowly, unfurls.

Cheerily, cheer-up, cheer-up, cheerily, cheer-up.

In other words: Spring has arrived.

All at once you notice flowering crocus, catkins dangling from delicate branches, colorful weeds dotting sepia toned landscapes. You watch the robin trot across the lawn, chest puffed like a popinjay as he pinballs from worm to fat, delicious worm. Soon he will gather twigs, feathers and grasses to build his nest.

Cheerily, cheer-up, cheer-up, cheerily, cheer-up.

As the kettle whistles from the stovetop, the aroma of freshly ground coffee warming the sunny room, a smile animates your face with soft lines.

Spring has arrived, you think.

And the world stirs back to life.

The Goddess Returns

The Full Worm Moon and Daylight Saving Time both happen on Sunday, March 12.  Because maple sap begins to flow in March, Native Americans deemed this month’s full moon the Sap Moon. You won’t want to miss it. And while you may miss that hour of sleep after turning the clocks forward, the longer days will make up for it in no time — especially when the field crickets start sweet-talking you into porch-sitting past supper.

Although the lusty robin may have announced the arrival of spring weeks ago, Monday, March 20, officially marks the vernal equinox. Greek myth tells that Demeter, goddess of harvest and fertility, celebrates the six-month return of her beautiful daughter, Persephone (goddess of the Underworld), by making the earth lush and fruitful once again. 

International Day of Forests and World Poetry Day fall on Tuesday, March 21 — a day after the start of spring. Celebrate with a poem by your favorite naturalist, and if you’re feeling inspired, try reading a few lines to a favorite stand of oak, maple or pine. 

In the spirit of Saint Patrick’s Day (Friday, March 17), why not spread white or red clover seed across bare patches of the lawn? One benefit of this flowering, drought-resistant legume is that it attracts pollinators and other insects that prey on garden pests. Plus, if you find a four-leaf clover — supposedly there’s one for every 10 thousand with three leaves — it’s said to bring you good luck. Give the shamrock to a friend and your fortune will double.

According to National Geographic, one of the “Top 7 Must-See Sky Events for 2017” will occur on March 29. On this Wednesday evening, Mercury, Mars, and a thin crescent moon will form a stunning celestial triangle in the western sky, with Mercury shining at its brightest to the right of the moon and Mars glowing above them.

Bald Facts about Daffodils

The daffodil — also known as jonquil, Narcissus and “Lent Lily” — is the birth flower of March. Synonymous with spring, this cheerful yellow flower is a symbol of rebirth and good fortune. And a little-known fact: Medieval Arabs used daffodil juice as a cure for baldness. 

Each leaf,

each blade of grass

vies for attention.

Even weeds

carry tiny blossoms

to astonish us.

–Marianne Poloskey, “Sunday in Spring” OH

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