Forward, March!

IN forwarding the claims of this unpopular month to a more tolerant consideration by its many detractors, I do not wish to display the irritating spirit of a Pollyanna. Indeed, I have great sympathy with the remark of the astute old lady who said she had always noticed that if she lived through March she lived through the rest of the year. Even Julius Cæsar quailed at what this month might hold for him, and most of us need no soothsayer to tell us that we are more receptive to disaster in March than at any other season. Our tired nerves and coldracked bodies are Cassandras whose messages should be heeded.

March is certainly the pariah among the months, and most appropriately is he named after the god of war, for no character could more truly suggest willful trouble-seeking and boisterous unrest. This is the month when people of leisure and prosperity who live in Northern climes seek to escape the rigors of so-called ‘spring’ by hurrying to zones where March disguises himself as his more peaceable brother April, or even assumes the feminine aspect of his gentle sister May.

But there are many thousands of us who cannot wander in search of the perfect climate, and who must learn to exercise that quality so justly recommended nowadays by nerve doctors and psychologists, ‘adjustment to our own environment’ —and alas! that environment includes the thirtyone days which separate winter from spring.

We all enjoy lending a hand to pull the rope that hangs the dog to whom a bad name has been given, but poor misjudged March does not deserve hanging, for he is less a criminal than a humorist. We take his follies far too seriously, and condemn him when we should only laugh at him. If our hats fly off when March winds blow too suddenly upon them, if we step on a frozen puddle only to find ourselves up to our ankles in ice water, we must realize that March is making a clumsy attempt to be amusing, for he is a born practical joker who likes to get a rise out of hats and skirts. If we swear instead of laughing, it is the fault of January and February, who have frazzled our nerves; breezy, happygo-lucky March is not really trying to irritate us.

March has a sense of beauty as well as a sense of humor. The same wind that blows off our hats sets the twigs on the highest tree tops curtsying and balancing to corners as if they were dancing a minuet. It is March who dips the willow wands in sunlight and turns them to delicate gold when winter seemed to have killed all life and color in them. The little brook becomes vocal under its

crystal fretting,
Never never petting
About the frozen time.

Early birds have appeared, —

a very few
a bird or two, &emdash;

not to catch the punctual worm, but to beg for the crumbs that fall from the rich man’s table, and their hunger drives away their native shyness and gives their flattered host a momentary sense of kinship with Saint Francis.

In March those who are fortunate enough to live in the country where the air is not poisoned by the noxious fumes of motors can detect the smell — perhaps not of green things growing, but of the mud that announces their approach, and even that is pleasant after the sting of frost in one’s nostrils. March brings a general consciousness that the back of winter is broken, even if the vigorous monster is not quite dead; and if the poor old thing gives a despairing kick or two and tries to resume his sway, we know that April is coming up the hill, and that it is the law of Nature that Age must abdicate in favor of Youth, and the reign of frightfulness must give place to the rains of fruitfulness.

March is essentially the month of transition. It is a good time to realize the pleasures of retrospect no less than those of anticipation. For these few weeks Nature seems to pause in the outward manifestations of her activity, and we should follow her example and prepare our souls — even as we do our gardens and our houses — for the change that is coming.

‘ Remove mulch from the flower beds, cut back the hybrid tea roses. Look out for insects!’ commands our garden calendar.

‘Clean out closet shelves, dust out cupboards. Look out for moths!’ cries out practical experience.

‘Beware the Ides of March when everybody’s temper — including your own — is easily lost! Put away winter grievances in an air-tight bag. Shake out your sense of humor and hang it where the wind can blow through it!’ advises common sense.

Philosophers tell us that no actual enjoyment is so keen as the joy of anticipation. The greatest pleasure we have in April consists of looking forward to May; ergo April is more desirable than May. This being so, March should take on a new significance, it being the icy, wind-swept corridor that leads to the month of joyful anticipation. This may sound like the specious reasoning of a determined optimist, but it is time that we should take stock of the good points of much-maligned March, instead of always harping on his obvious faults. We must remember that there is not only such a thing as a Funeral March, but a Wedding March as well, and that the month that tolls the knell of passing snowflakes hails also the coming of bride-white snowdrops — and this prophecy of spring is a prophecy that shall not fail. WILMOT PRICE