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Ignore the forecast: get outside

March 14, 2010 at 03:15 AM


Mother Nature is precocious in March. Charles Dickens got it right when he said, “It was one of those March days when the sun shines hot and the wind blows cold: When it is summer in the light, and winter in the shade.”

Chuck could have gone a little further and added that it’s almost impossible to put on the right combination of clothes for one of those days.

Weather-wise, March is a meteorologist’s nightmare. Beyond the 24-hour forecast, March weather can be hard to predict.

Less than two weeks after the tornadoes ripped through here in 2006, central Illinois was on the receiving end of a first-day-of-spring snowstorm that closed schools and made the tornado cleanup even more challenging. In other years, the snow from an early March blizzard has been washed away by severe thunderstorms before it’s had the chance to melt. We’ve seen chunks of ice floating down flooded streams.

When March body slams us with one final blast of winter, we can take a look at the calendar, see the daffodils sticking their yellow heads up through the snow, or the shivering robins, and tell ourselves that it can’t last.

Winter weather in March isn’t as hopeless as it is in January. The days are longer. The temperatures are pushing up. Sometimes we get a glimpse of a bluebird that’s back from his winter vacation. The tracks around the den indicate the kit foxes may be making their first trips outside. When we see a “V” of Canada geese going north, they may be intending to make the whole trip.

No matter whether it comes in like lion and goes out like lamb, in March the season is changing. Shakespeare said, “Beware of the Ides of March.” Julius Caesar ignored that advice and found himself in a pretty sticky situation.

Those first days when a warm wind is blowing out of the south and even a 55-degree day seems balmy, our thinking processes become scrambled. We start to notice things that have escaped our attention all winter.

Those clods of Kansas mud that have been caked on the side of the truck since December have suddenly become offensive. The idea of yard work becomes strangely appealing. Picking up sticks the lawn tractor could easily reduce to wood chips a month from now seems to be a pleasant activity. Trimming bushes, or even something as potentially foolish as fertilizing a yard, have us whistling while we work. The really important things like getting the boat ready for the first spring fishing trip or sighting in a turkey gun get placed on the back burner.

The strange thing about this brand of March madness is that most of us don’t seem to mind. After a long, cold and snowy winter, spending the day outside doing anything is like money in the bank.

It’s best to get the chores done now. A few nice days in March are just a tease for the main attraction. Soon it will be time to go outside and have some fun.

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