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Prime Time: March can be fickle, but it heads us toward hope

No matter how old we grow or how many years have passed beyond our school days, everyone finds that mention of the Ides of March brings the assassination of Julius Caesar to mind.

We did not know what that expression really meant, and I am quite sure that most of us did not know that there are ides in other months as well as in March. I looked for a definition of ides. In the process I got into much interesting information about the ancient Roman calendar and the ways it has given us the background for the terms we use today.

In Roman times, ides indicated the approximate middle of the month. In March it was the 15th but in shorter months it came on the 13th. The ilendardes of March brought a special festival and celebration dedicated to the god Mars and included a military parade.

According to Plutarch, a soothsayer had predicted that Caesar would be harmed no later than the Ides of March. The story is told that Caesar met that seer earlier in the day and joked, "The Ides of March have come," and the seer replied, "but not gone." In this area, we cling to the fact that according to the calendar, spring arrives in March and winter is over "but not gone."

For a few years, we spent several late fall and winter months in Texas so we could be outdoors and active. When we returned home in March and found ourselves dealing with some of the most difficult weather of late winter, we learned to delay our return until April.

Now that our longest distance of travel is the 8 miles from our Grant Lake home to Bemidji, we are learning again to enjoy all the months here in the north country, including January and February as well as March.

This month can include a dizzying variety of temperatures and moisture. March can provide some crippling storms that keep us closed up in our homes hoping we have enough milk and other basic foods and worrying about a break in electric lines that could leave us in the dark and cold. In total contrast, March can also bring days that are joyous harbingers of the coming of spring and the hope for ice-free lakes and growing plants.

Which kind of month will this March be? So far, the signs are fairly encouraging, but we can never be certain what may be ahead as the days progress.

But when we come to March, we know we are headed for the hope of growing things in April, bright days in May and the warm days of the coming summer, which is our delightful reward for keeping the faith and hope all the way through March.