Sunday, March 9, 2008

"Spring forward, fall back" and other March trivia

Ah, March, the time of spring, when a young man's fancy turns to what the young ladies have been thinking about all winter. March is the month that comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb, unless it comes in like a lamb and goes out like a lion. Actually there are two more choices: March might come in like a lamb and go out like a lamb or come in like a lion and go out like a lion. Someone should apply for a federal grant to study what the weather in March has actually been like for the past umpteen years and then write an article about how the findings either totally prove or disprove global warming, or, as it is now being called in some quarters, climate change.

As it happens, the climate is always changing, thanks to the tilt of Earth's axis. Two of the most intriguing events caused by seasonal climate change occur each year in the month of March. On or about March 19, the swallows return to San Juan Capistrano, California. On or about March 15, the buzzards return to Hinckley, Ohio. One seems sublime; the other seems ridiculous. Both are true.

On March 9th this year, we turned our clocks one hour ahead to start the annual Daylight Saving Time period, which has been steadily lengthening. Now we have eight months of Daylight Saving Time and only four months of Standard Time. This nonsense, which is very confusing to dogs and cows and chickens, started back in the 1940's and was originally called British War time. The British War may end someday. We can only hope.

Julius Caesar was killed by his pal Brutus on the Ides of March (the 15th) in the year 44 B.C., which was not called 44 B.C. at the time except by the most clairvoyant citizens of the Roman Empire and a few prophetically gifted people living at the eastern end of the Mediterranean Sea. The first part of the previous sentence is true, but the last part is only conjecture.

March 17th is the feast day of St. Patrick in the Roman Catholic Church. There may be a reason why that particular day was chosen to honor Patrick, but I have not been able to find it. It doesn't seem to be the date of his birth, the date of his death, or the date when he drove all the snakes out of Ireland. You must decide for yourself whether the statement made in the last part of the previous sentence is true. As for myself, I think of Ireland every time I look out our back door, because when I look out our back door, I see (wait for it, here it comes) Paddy O'Furniture (groan).

The vernal equinox occurs in March, and it was the date of my grandfather's birth in 1875. Somehow, the vernal equinox seems to have shifted since 1875, because his birthday was March 21st and nowadays the vernal equinox occurs on March 20th. Go figure. Maybe we have accumulated too much Daylight Saving Time since the British War.

This year Easter comes early too; it occurs on March 23rd. For some reason known only to the people who decided to do it that way, Easter falls on the first Sunday after the first full moon after the vernal equinox (except in the Eastern Orthodox churches, which calculate the date differently). Speaking of calculating dates, I must have been conceived around the time of a solstice, because I was born around the time of an equinox. We could get into a lengthy discussion here about equinoxes and solstices and how much the Earth's axis is tilted, and why, or we could discuss John Philip Sousa, who was called the March King for an altogether different reason. Let's not, though, because my head is already swimming. It must suffice for now to tell you the most interesting terrestrial phenomenon of all, one that should be obvious in March or any other month: Love makes the world go 'round.


Jeannelle said...

Out of the hat of March you have pulled much information and made it enjoyably entertaining!

Interesting to ponder how time possibly was viewed back in the B.C. years, as we know them. Very interesting, indeed.

And I did not know about DST's original name.

My great-grandfather was born March 29, 1875, and actually, I had thought about that this morning while washing milkers. Your post's thoughts must have been travelling through the air.

rhymeswithplague said...

Jeanelle, thanks as always for reading my blog. I have several lurkers (you know who you are) but not many commenters. More's the pity. (I don't know what that means, but the phrase seems to fit here.)

I don't want to mislead you; I don't believe DST has ever been called British War Time in the United States, but when Congress decided to begin DST it was partly (maybe mostly) because British War Time had been started earlier in Britain. I think BWT made clocks in the Britain Isles match continental Europe's clocks, or maybe it made British clocks different from continental Europe's clocks. (I can't really remember, and I'm doing all this from memory.)

I'm using parentheses a lot again. Got to watch that.

When you were "washing milkers," does that mean the cows or the machines that go on the cows, or both? Inquiring minds want to know.

Again, thanks for reading my blog.