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They say that the sun in March here in Maine is supposed to be as robust and strong as the sun we enjoyed back in October.
That’s what they say!
The idea is that in October - when the earth's axis is tilting north and the power of the sun begins to fade around here and focus on the end of the planet known as the Southern Hemisphere – we here in Maine start to put on sweaters and go to football games and rake leaves and fire up our woodstoves because in late October afternoons and evenings things start to get a tad chilly.
Fortunately, the earth's northward tilt seems to end abruptly around the 20th of December at what old hippies celebrate as the Winter Solstice – the return of the sun. The idea is that as northerners we're glad when the sunshine heads back toward our end of the planet and warms things up around here.
But any Mainer knows that March has never been a popular month here in Maine because – unlike October – the month of March is often a problem. We often have “issues” with March.
When was the last time you had a problem with October?
On the other hand, the month of March is so utterly useless and universally unpopular that many towns like to dump, excuse me “schedule” their town meetings in March just to give folks something exciting and entertaining to look forward to and talk about for a few days.
Often, the weather in March does everything in its power to make a mockery of the ridiculous "March is like October” statement because – as we all know – some of the worst weather ever dropped on the heads of the people of Maine has been dumped during the month of March. No October in memory has ever treated us like that.
We know that every month of the year has storms. But when March has a storm it’s not just one of your traditional New England “weather events,” no siree.
When March has a storm it likes to mix and match the nastiest of meteorological ingredients. The typical March storm may begin slowly and easily with a little snow, but then it will quickly turn and give us a blast of arctic air and then a bit more snow from the northwest and then – after a few hours of that – it may decide to bring in some southern breezes and turn the arctic snow into freezing rain, then more rain and soon we’re back to freezing rain and a dash of sleet and back to snow, atop a thin sheet of black ice and then more rain and finally a cold blast that freezes the whole mess into an ugly arctic sculpture.
The thing that sets us up for such a late-winter sucker-punch is the fact that March is perfectly capable of giving us a nice sunny day that makes us think longingly of the beach or sailing on the bay. March can give us days that make us foolishly think that the back of winter has finally been broken and spring has finally arrived.
But to see how different October and March are just write them – “October” and “March” – side-by-side on paper. Then list all the good times you and the family have had outdoors in October. I figure you'd probably need a few more sheets of paper just to finish listing all your October good times, right? Now, scratch your head and try to think of one – just one – good time you and the family have had outdoors in Maine in March.
I rest my case.
John McDonald is a humorist and storyteller who performs regularly throughout
New England. Contact John at mainestoryteller@yahoo.com or 899-1868.
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