Sunday, March 15, 2015

In the Merry Month of March

Dear George,
Most years March is my seventh or eighth favorite month.  This year, though, it’s already moved up to number one.  That’s because March is such an abrupt transition from our dismally harsh winter.  In just a few days subzero temperatures have been replaced to highs in the 60s.  The thick layer of ice which covered our sidewalks and made dogwalking a hazard has completely evaporated.  Best of all Daylight Savings Time has arrived, providing daylight up till almost eight o’clock.  Now we actually can see ourselves surviving through 2015.  Here are some things about the month of March that are particularly noteworthy. 

March’s name:  March, of course, is named after Mars, the Roman god of war.  Martius (in Latin) was the first month of the early Roman calendar, and it was the beginning of the season for both farming and warfare.  Many societies still celebrate the beginning of the New Year in March.  (12) (note: numbers in parentheses refer to sources at end)

The Vernal Equinox:  This year the Vernal Equinox will occur on March 20 in the Northern hemisphere.  This is the date upon which the day and the night are the same 12-hour length.  It also happens in some years on March 19 or March 21.  (6)  

March quotes:
March Calamities:
  • Mar. 6, 1836:  Fort Alamo fell to the Mexican troops. 
  • Mar. 12, 1928:  The Nazis invaded Austria. 
  • Mar. 15, 44 B.C.:  Julius Caesar was assassinated in the Senate chamber in Rome by Brutus and fellow conspirators. 
  • Mar. 16, 1968:  The My Lai Massacre occurred in Vietnam.
  • Mar. 24, 1989:  The Exxon Valdez oil spill occurred off the coast of Alaska.
  • Mar. 25, 1911:  The Triangle Shirtwaist Co. fire on Manhattan’s Lower East Side killed 123 young women and 23 men.
  • Mar. 27, 1964:  The biggest earthquake in recorded history (8.3 on the Richter scale) hit Anchorage, Alaska.
  • Mar. 28, 1979:  The Three Mile Island nuclear power plant accident occurred in Middletown, PA.   (7, 8) 
March could be called “Katja’s month”:  I never realized it before doing this research, but March has special significance for Katja.  This is because she has been a social worker who specialized in visual impairments, a former French teacher, a 1960’s (and beyond) feminist, a music lover, an aspiring poetess, and the daughter of a dietician.  Thus, it’s no surprise that March observances and holidays include:
  • National Professional Social Work Month
  • Workplace Eye Wellness Month
  • National Eye Donor Month
  • International Francophone Month
  • UN French Language Day (Mar. 20)
  • Women’s History Month
  • International Women’s Day (Mar. 8)
  • Music in our Schools Month
  • World Poetry Day (Mar. 21)
  • National Nutrition Month   (3, 12)
Saints Days in March:
  • Saint David’s Day in Wales (Mar. 1): Saint David, a 6th century teacher and ascetic who founded a Celtic monastic community in Wales, was recognized as a national patron saint during Welsh resistance to the Normans.  Every March 1 Welsh people make gingerbread figures of a Welshman riding a goat. 
  • Saint Patrick’s Day (Mar. 17): Saint Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland, is credited with converting the pagan Irish to Christianity in the 5th century.  (12)
 Pi Day, March 14:  Pi, as we remember from high school geometry, is the ratio of a circle's circumference to its diameter (3.141592653...).  Pi Day is celebrated on March 14 (since 3-14 are the first 3 digits of Pi).  This year is special because 3-14-15 are the first five digits of Pi.  If you happened to remember to celebrate at 9:26 and 53 seconds (AM or PM) on 3-14-15, those were supercalifragilistic Pi moments since they covered the 10 first digits of Pi (3141592653).  That won't happen again for 100 years.  (12)

Stupidest March Political Moment in Recorded History:  U.S. Senators who wrote Ayatollah Khomeini and other Iranian leaders on March 9, 2015, warning against negotiating with President Obama.  Signers included Tom Cotton (R, AK), Mitch McConnell (R, KY), John McCain (R, AZ), John Cornyn (R, TX), Marco Rubio (R, FL), Rand Paul (R, KY), Lindsey Graham (R, SC), Ted Cruz (R, TX), Rob Portman (R, OH), and 38 lesser known R’s.

"March Madness" Men's Div. 1 Basketball Champions:
  • 2014:  Connecticut def. Kentucky, 60-54
  • 2013: Louisville def. Michigan, 82-76
  • 2012: Kentucky def. Kansas, 67-59
  • 2011: Connecticut def. Butler, 53-41
  • 2010: Duke def. Butler, 61-59
  • 2009: North Carolina def. Michigan State, 89-72
  • 2008: Kansas def. Memphis, 75-68
  • 2007: Florida def. Ohio State, 84-75    (12)
 The Original March Madness: Long before the NCAA basketball tournament, “March madness” referred to crazy behavior during the breeding season of the European hare.  While hares are generally nocturnal animals, in the springtime they chase one another in broad daylight in a frenzy around fields and meadows.  Females can be seen striking males with their paws as they show that they’re not ready to mate or are testing the male’s persistence  When the female finally does get ready, she races around the countryside until only the fittest and most dominant male is left to trip the light fantastic.  Virtually all female hares become pregnant in March and April, giving birth to three or more infants after six weeks.  (12) 

Wildflowers that bloom in March in Southwest Ohio: Crocus, Pepper and Salt, Snow Drops, Spring Cress, White Trout Lily, Bloodroot, Marigold, Hairy Bittercress, Common Chickweed, String Beauty, Cut Leafed Toothwort, Rue Anemone, Ground Ivy, Purple Dead Nettle, Kidney-leafed Buttercup, Bird's-Eye Speedwell, Sessile Trillium, Sharp-Lobed Hepatica, Coltsfoot, Common Blue Violet.  (1, 11)

Menominee Michigan Weather in March:  Menominee typically gets about 10 inches of snow in March (the third snowiest month of the year); is sunny on 52% of its days; gets about 2.5 inches of rain (sixth rainiest month; June is highest); and has an average temperature of 30 degrees, an average high of 39, and an average low of 21.  (4)

Cincinnati Weather in March:  Cincinnati typically gets about 4.5 inches of snow in March (the fourth snowiest month of the year), has an average temperature of 42 degrees.  (4)

March in my childhood (1946-49): The ice on the Menominee River melts and breaks up in late March or early April.  My parents named it "Chinese Bells Day" because of the wonderful tinkling sounds.  We made our last snowmen of the year in March, and we started winding down on indoor fireplace fires.  I had to spend less time shoveling our 100-yard driveway.  Before the county blacktopped Riverside Boulevard, the melting ice and snow in March created deep muddy ruts on the road to our house, and we'd usually get several days off from school because the road was impassable.

March 2015 at our house on Ludlow Ave.:  Because of warmer temperatures and Daylight Savings Time, I walk the dogs a lot more.  Katja and Donna are talking about a trip abroad.  I was thrilled to return to line dancing and fitness center workouts after five weeks off for fractured ribs. We registered for spring quarter OLLI courses, including poetry writing and Life in Ancient Greece and Rome.  We cried at Cinderella.  The senior citizen sheepdogs, with a little help, are hanging in there.  All in all, life is good.

(1), “Early wildflowers of SW Ohio”; (2), “March”;
(3), “March”; (4), "Menominee, Michigan"; “Cincinnati, Ohio”; (5), “Brain Candy Quotations: Months”; 2015”;  (6), “March Fun Facts”; (7), “This Month in History: March”; (8), “This Month in History – March”; (9), "March 2015 Current Events"; (10), “March quotes”; (11), “Common Spring Wildflowers in Ohio”; (12)

G-mail Comments
-Donna D (3-16):  Fantastic!

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