A member of the Marblehead Current’s Board of Directors, Virginia Buckingham is the former chief executive officer of the Massachusetts Port Authority, chief of staff to two Massachusetts governors, deputy editorial page editor for the Boston Herald and author of “On My Watch: A Memoir.”
March is the longest month. Yes, there are six other months with 31 days in them, but do any of them feel as long as March?
Like a child feels anticipating Christmas or the last day of school, April takes forever to arrive. And the month named for the Roman god Mars, the god of war, is a trickster to boot. It teases with more light and then a little more. It taunts with snowfalls and ice storms. It tweaks with warmth, calling to the crocuses. It twists the very next day with bitter winds and gray. A depleted wood pile calls for better planning and the purchase of plastic wrapped bundles for $6.99 a whack. The fire roars next to a vase of daffodils. Fight me, Mars!
If I were braver I would have written a column about ideas to make March enjoyable last week when there were 30 days in front of us. If I were wiser, I’d have scheduled this column for next week when there would only be 15 days left. As a compromise, below are enough ideas to make it to the first day of spring. Then you’re on your own. Kidding! (Beware, readers, this column contains enough exclamation points to make an English teacher blush. March requires exclamation points. It just does.)
March 8 — It’s Wednesday. The new Current is out, enough said!
March 9 — Plan your garden. Mine is a modest effort. I have one raised bed. This is year three of planting it. My one innovation last year was to rotate my “crops.” Alas, my broccoli didn’t work. Nor did my tomatoes. I got just a handful of sun golds here and there. Cucumbers were a bust. Basil? My only blockbuster. This year I am sitting down with Johnny’s seed catalog. I am drawing a plan. I am moving my bed. I may add a second. So much to think about!
March 10 — It’s official “sit in front of the fire” day. With your computer if you have to work. With a book if you don’t. All day. I made that up but that’s my plan.
March 11 — Put together a list of ideas for summer vacation. At least pick the dates. Having something to look forward to is a March essential!
March 12 — But no more looking forward to spring forward. There are not enough exclamation points to underscore the happiness of this day despite the sleep deprivation. Oh and it’s Oscar Night, if red carpets etc. are your thing.
March 13 — Cut out the lists of movies, actors and directors who won and see if any of the work is streaming yet. Watch one!
March 14 — March Madness begins, or as I like to call it, the season when teenage boys stop doing their homework.
March 15 — “Well, the Ides of March have come,” joked good old Julius Caesar en route to the Theatre of Pompey. He was giddy that a predicted assassination hadn’t occurred. Well, Julius, as they say in New England about the weather, wait a minute! Yet, unlike in 44 BC, on this Ides, kindness is making another comeback. The new season of Ted Lasso is just about all we need to make it through the rest of March.
March 16 — Tell your kids you’ll give them a dollar today for every robin they see. Robins are the harbinger of spring. Why, then, did you see one in January? Because not all robins migrate, it turns out. They’ve adapted to the weather and lack of food sources. They’re sturdy, like us March survivors. Check to see how many dollars you have. You’ll need them.
March 17 — If you can’t find something to enjoy on this greenest of days, then I have no suggestions.
March 18 — Throw some business to a local car wash. (P.S., This is as sure a way of guaranteeing more snow as putting your porch furniture out.)
March 19 — Put your winter boots and coats away. See yesterday. Kidding!
March 20 — SPRING HAS SPRUNG!!!!
What to do to fill the rest of March? How about learning some new March facts? Did you know that March used to be the first month in the calendar in the early Roman days? What a difference that would make. There would be no expectation that March offered anything but plain old cold dreary winter. Having low expectations is a decent strategy to get through March.
Also, according to the Farmer’s Almanac, the weather proverb, “If March comes in like a lion, it will go out like a lamb,” has more than the one commonly-understood changing weather meaning. “The constellation Leo, the lion, rises in the east at the beginning of March and thus the month comes in like a lion,” the almanac explains, “while Aries, the ram, sets in the west at the end of the month, and hence, the month will go out like a lamb.”
March also is Women’s History Month. Who chose the worst month of the year for Women’s History Month? Don Lemon? Kidding. This year’s history month theme is celebrating women who tell stories. In honor, I am going to re-read a Sue Monk Kidd favorite, “Traveling with Pomegranates,” which she co-wrote with her daughter Ann. In it, she describes a spiritual pilgrimage where she offers a prayer to finally reconcile her desire for stillness with her desire to create. After that trip, at the age of 54, she published her first novel, “The Secret Life of Bees” which has sold eight million copies. Take that, Don Lemon!
More wisdom from the Almanac — March brings rain and mud! Sprinkle salt on carpets to dry out muddy footprints before vacuuming.” And, “Check birdhouses for damage and give them a spring cleaning before tenants arrive for the season.”
One more fun fact to close out the month and this column. March 31 is “World Backup Day.” Who knew. It highlights the importance of backing up your data. Or you know, you’ll lose it. Forever.
And thus ends the month of March with one more from the Almanac: “In beginning or in end, March its gifts will send.”
Bye March, don’t let the newly patched screen door hit ya…