THROUGH THE WOODS: The Ides of March

Photo by Nancy Jane Kern

THOUSANDS OF YEARS AGO the ancient Romans had a different calendar than ours and each month was divided into sections with the middle called the Ides. For some of us old codgers who studied William Shakespeare’s play Julius Caesar, this time marked the death of Caesar as predicted by the fortune teller: “Beware the Ides of March.” Not a jolly time for Caesar, and in this part of the world not always a happy time for us either.

It was also the time of Roman tax collection. At least ours is the Ides of April. At my place, the temperature dropped about 25 degrees from last Saturday to Sunday, the March wind was roaring and slamming the house, and there were spurts of snow on Sunday! The snowdrops folded up and looked like they wanted to go back into the ground. The birds were being blown around trying to get to the feeders. The deer were out to munch down as much grass as they could in between the worst wind gusts.

With March you never can predict the weather. St. Patrick’s Day can be beautiful or there have been times of several feet of drifting snow in the hills of our county. Add in a loss of an hour’s sleep from the Daylight-Saving Time change this week. Spring comes on Saturday with hope but no guarantees for the weather. The trees are showing the promise of enlarging buds in a range of color from the yellow of the willow trees to the reds of maples. The brown, tenacious leaves of oaks are letting go and blowing away to add some more mulch and protection to floors of forests.

The frozen wood frogs will be thawing out to start “quacking” in my woods. Peepers are expected as well as the annual migrations of amphibians such as salamanders. Please slow down on cool wet evenings and try not to squash them. If you can safely stop, consider moving them across the highway to the side they are pointed. Children love to learn about them, and this can be a great teachable moment with a little online prep for identifications. Or as follow up.

There are so many positive signs around us and so hard to have patience. I braved the wind gusts on Sunday to listen to the beginning spring songs of the braver birds who are also impatient. They sense it is time to find mates with the increasing light upping their hormones. I looked down on the tips of bulbs showing in the front flower bed. More snow can protect them, but I want to see the flowers.

There are so many mixed emotions for this time of year. Please let the Ides of March mean warmth and sunshine!

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