Although we might remember the poet’s words, In the spring a young man’s fancy lightly turns to thoughts of love, and I suppose, since the word, “lightly” is inserted here, we can infer that the young man is not considering love in a serious manner, and since it leaves out any possibility that the young girl might be thinking of it, chop-chop! That makes a big X in the little square before the word, LOVE, in the list of subjects for discussion the month of March.
Let us then go on to the next word on the list and see what that one yields. The word is MARCH. Hmmmm. March. Yes I know lots of stories about March, and how does it happen that we have a month named March? Well, it so happens that this month is named for Mars. Now how did that come about? Well, you do remember Romulus and Remus, the founders of Rome, I am sure, and you remember that their father was the god Mars, and the mother was fully human. I don’t have time to go on Google and refresh my mind on all the names and details. I can leave that up to you to do, but suffice it that Mars was an extremely important deity to the Romans for Mars was their god of war and they depended on his help in all their campaigns. I do remember an intriguing story that I will just touch on here to pique your interest and maybe cause you to want to refresh your memory about it—the story about the twins being set adrift and the box they were in landed finally, and a woodpecker and a wolf rescued them. They were fed and saved by these two animals and their images became sacred symbols to the Romans! A shepherd came on the scene and took them into the human family where they grew up and the rest is Roman history!
All right, a check mark in the square before the word, March. We proceed to the next word on the list and this one is SPRINGTIME. Wow! At last! Something I can dwell on, and probably have several things to say that will bring things to your recollection. Having spent all my early years in West Virginia, I was surrounded on all sides with big “hills” and “mountains” which were completely covered with trees and the undergrowth was full of every beautiful wild flower that you can imagine. By the time March days appeared on the calendar, the February thaws had all the little brooks, creeks and hollows roaring with the sound of their tumbling waters as they rushed down the mountains and found their ways to the larger creeks and then these flowed swiftly into the rivers! The roaring sound of those mountain streams continued into March. Since our house was at the top of one of those hills, and forests were all around, the sound of the March winds sighing through the trees was something that we knew was doing the work of Spring, and that sound would awaken all the little wild flowers and they would pop their heads out of the ground and start growing!
There was no time for loitering on the way to school, but on the way home I dawdled quite a bit, for it was a steep climb, and there were fun places to stop and brush the dead leaves aside to see what was going on down there. When I saw the trillium, the Jack-in-the-pulpit, the trailing arbutus, all poking their heads up, I had something to tell Mother when I entered the kitchen.
Most of the time that’s where I would find her, for she would be starting to get our supper ready, and after that climb, I was ravenous! Sometimes she had a big pot of “leather britches,” (this is corn field beans which are picked and dried in the shell, while the bean is still fresh and green. They are washed and then with a large needle and thread are strung and then that thread holding the beans is hung up to dry in the cellar house. When thoroughly dry they are transferred to a sack and when we had them for dinner they were placed in water and soaked for several hours, and then they were cooked! ) When we had them they were cooked in a large cast iron kettle and nothing in the world compares to the taste of this vegetable. Mother would usually let me have a little bowl of them. I had usually already had two or three cookies and then some of those beans and a left-over biscuit from the warming closet of the wood stove. I wonder how many readers know what I am talking about when I say “warming closet?” On the big wood stove which we called a “range” there were two big shelves with doors on them and they were used to keep things warm while you were fixing and serving a meal. Then after the stove was cool we simply stored the bread or maybe the sausage or ham that was left over, and when the children came home from school starving to death, they could go looking in the warming closets for the yummies.
Toward the end of March, we could look for days when it was sunny and warm, so that the heavy winter coat was a burden as the climbing went on, and then it had to be taken off and carried. It was heavy, and although my brothers usually took my books in their book-bags, how I hated this bother of having to carry the coat.
One morning I went in and said to Mother, “May I leave off the coat? I get all heated up and have to take it off on the way home and carry it. It’s so heavy!” Mother said, “No, Maxine. This time of year, it could be snowing and you would need it. You will simply have to carry it when you do not need it, and I can tell you now that I can’t give you permission not to wear it yet.”
The next morning I did not ask her, so I would not be in disobedience! I simply ran off quickly and did not wear the coat. At the middle of the morning the sun went behind a cloud and the world grew gray. The teacher lowered the windows which he had raised for fresh air, and right after the lunch period the big white flakes began pouring down and they were as large as a quarter, coming down fast and furiously so that we could not see the houses that were close to the school. I was in big trouble. When I went to get my lunch pail the teacher said, “Maxine, where is your coat?” I had to confess that I had not worn it because I hated having to carry it up the hill in the evening. He said, “Well I have a sweater here.” He had a cardigan that he kept on the back of his teacher’s chair. He put it on me and buttoned it up and it hung all the way down like a coat and the sleeves he rolled up and said, “This is not going to be enough, Maxine. You should have brought your coat.” To make a long story short the snow made the sweater wet and cold and when I arrived at home I was freezing cold! To say that Mother was angry with me is putting it mildly. She took that sweater off me and put me in a tub of hot water in the kitchen and when she dried me off she nearly took the skin along with it! She was totally provoked and she let me know it in no uncertain terms. When I was dry and dressed, it was the rocking chair for me by the kitchen stove and from then on for an hour or so, I had to listen to her lecture. This was her favorite way of punishing me. She knew that I had to sit still and listen and not move an eyelash, and I had better have all my “Yes, Ma’ams” ready and that had better be ALL I had to say. No sign of being worn out with listening would be allowed.
I’ll let you know that from that day until this, I am very careful about March weather. It is treacherous. We had 3 inches of snow here in Dallas to usher in the month! Then it rained, and ice formed. Today it is all gone, and the sun was out. I have not heard the weather report today, but I can assure you that spring is on the way, in spite of March ranting and raging about the fact. She is rushing toward April and every twenty-four hour period brings her closer. She can never forget that before she grew into the god of war she was the god of agriculture—they made sacrifices to her of pigs and goats to assure themselves of a good crop. Yes! She knows that was her original sacred duty-to usher in the springtime, and that meant time to plant! And then, since March meant that the battles could begin again, that’s how she finally ended up as the god of war! Nevertheless, she knows good and well what her original nature meant! Welcome, sweet springtime! We greet you in song! Absolutely, for soon our lovely April will come dancing in wearing her gown of green carrying a bouquet of jonquils and tulips!
In the meantime, I have a few weeks here to get ready for my storytelling workshops in Virginia, the weekend of April 17th. What a fun time that will be!
And I have two important birthdays to remember this month! Both of them are on the twenty-fifth!
And for Easter I travel to NM for a visit with loved ones.
And what else? For another thing, the 17th of March is St. Patrick’s Day, and that, ladies and gentlemen, is the day that I chose for my wedding day. March 17, 1945 I was married to Frank Leslie Bersch, Sr. and that lasted fifty two years. All the details of that courtship and marriage can be found in my book of memoirs, Under the Gooseberry Bush, which is available on Kindle or from Amazon, or from me, if you want a signed copy!
NOTE: Please see Mackie’s home page for additional details about her book, click here…