Can you believe it is the middle of March? (The actual Ides of March were on the 15th, but that is not an observance much attended to anymore, at least in the U.S. Most of us never heard of it until we learned about Caesar, or read some Shakespeare.)
March is the trickster month, probably why we see so much raven activity these days. We watch it arrive, expecting warmth and sunshine and balmy days, and for awhile it lures us in with sunny skies and melting icicles than BOOM, we get zapped with a snow storm and zero weather, just as a last reminder that it is only March and this IS Alaska.
But the Iditarod is in the books ( despite a very unexpected scratch that changed the entire scenario); we have sprung ahead an hour, the tripod is up on the Tanana at Nenana and Spring break is over on Monday. All immediate signs of March in Alaska.
I’d say it came in like a lion; it roared right up until the first, then sorta stopped and licked its paws, but the remnants are here: big piles of snow, below-freezing nights; but there is honest heat in the sun. Another indicator of good things to come: The first day of spring is less than a week away (at least on the calendar).
Some of my friends reminded me that it’s not spring until you can change your snow boots for rubber boots, or there is water in the parking lots rather than ice. Others mentioned no icicles, dripping or not, robins, green leaf buds, baby moose, getting rid of the heavy coat, even no more static electricity. Whatever your gauge, spring might be off a ways yet.
March doesn’t have much going for it in terms of holidays.
Once in a blue moon Easter comes at the end of the month, otherwise St. Patrick’s Day is it and that was yesterday. I remember St. Patrick’s Day in elementary school. Not a real party day, like Valentine’s Day, but a nominal observation, at least by the students.
If you didn’t have visible green somewhere, you for sure got pinched. The primary teachers would have cut out shamrocks to pin on our shirts for those who may have forgotten so no one went home black and blue from being pinched all day.
About third or fourth grade, the green construction paper and blunt-end scissors were available to cut out our own shamrocks. The lunch ladies may have remembered with green-frosted cupcakes or a sugar cookie shaped like a shamrock — maybe even some green Kool-Aid. I don’t remember ever any classroom parties or school sponsored dances specifically for St. Patrick’s Day.
Later in life, green beer became a thing, if St. Patrick’s Day was on the weekend. I expect it was a thing no matter what day, but not for those of us with a life that seldom included the party scene. Hubby did a stint as a bartender one winter in a very local tavern. I learned a lot by osmosis that year, green beer probably the most benign.
March is a turning point in Alaska. We really notice the growing light; lots of days are sunny, even warm compared to the weeks before and we start to wake up, making plans for gardens and road trips, ice fishing, maybe a party or other get-together with friends we may not have seen all winter.
We start hearing from relatives planning a trip to Alaska and wondering how far it is from here to Fairbanks and can we come up for an afternoon when their tour is in town.
So it’s time to put away the jig-saw puzzles, save the reading for bedtime, shelve the hobbies and crafts and start looking for bare patches along the road and new birds in the neighborhood. It will be a while before we see a daffodil or can put out the lawn chairs but every day we measure the drift by the road and think “maybe two weeks.”
Even for Alaska, it has been a very long winter.
And it’s March! In two weeks it will be April. Obviously, T.S. Eliot didn’t live in Alaska, or he’d have named March the cruelest month, (although we won’t see any lilacs now, or even in April). But we survived another one. The grandkids will hunt Easter eggs in the snow again, and March will be something to look back on next year and compare.
Let’s hope at least it goes out like a lamb.