March comes in like a Lion and leaves like a Lamb

“Like many proverbs for the month of March, it can be traced back to Thomas Fuller’s 1732 compendium, “Gnomologia; Adagies and Proverbs; Wise Sentences and Witty Sayings, Ancient and Modern, Foreign and British.”

Fuller compiled numerous proverbs and studied weather lore across many countries through the late 1600s and early 1700s.” 

Tom Sater, CNN, 3/2/21



This is definitely one of my least favorite months.

I don’t worry so much about “Beware the ides of March” – – it’s the whole month that’s unreliable and treacherous.  It lulls us with brief interludes of spring weather – –  so you let your guard down and start putting away the heavy coats, hats, gloves, scarves and boots – –  before stabbing you with ice storms and never-ending sniffles.

I just took a look at that scene in Shakespeare’s play.  Cassius is telling Brutus that “we can both endure the winter’s cold” as well as Caesar – – but I noticed, none of those guys lived in Milwaukee.

Try walking around here in a toga during the winter and you’ll start losing body parts pretty quickly.

The freezing-and-thawing breaks up the roads and often leaves an icy glaze on the sidewalks, so walking around is really less a matter of marching and more of a dangerous schlep.  I recently ran across the term “footslog,” another good term for getting through this month.  I looked it up, it’s new to me but found it’s been in use since 1897, I guess it just took a long slog to get here.

March can be bad news, as when the “warming trend” sometimes turned out to be nuclear meltdowns and radioactive leakage — Fukushima and Three Mile Island ( March 11, 2011 and March 28, 1979 respectively) — or the Iraq War, which began in March 2003.   John Philip Sousa, the March King, died in March.

One of my grandmothers lived in the Genesee Valley, south of Rochester, NY and would talk about the ice storm of March 1991, which brought down thousands of trees and left her without electricity for two weeks.  There were chainsaws, chippers and stump-grinders roaring for weeks.  Parking lots all over town had huge piles of wood chips and sawdust, which began fermenting and steaming like little volcanoes and sometimes would begin smoldering through spontaneous combustion.

She was sad about the loss of trees, but otherwise had a pretty good time.  She refused to leave her house, cooked meals in the fireplace and ate by candlelight.  When a utility crew finally showed up on her street, to clear fallen limbs and reconnect the electric lines, she went out to bring them coffee and was delighted to find that they were from her hometown in northeast Pennsylvania.



March Comes In Like a Lion?

Yeah, it was a typo.

Not like a lion, 

it was meant as a warning,

March comes in, lying.

A nasty flimflam man,

Selling ice to the Eskimos.

Shows up every year here in River City

with a Spring in his step

Talking of green pastures and lambs

Just spinning yarns and waving arms

Full of wind and promises


March is a thug named for the god of war

And just like his dad,

A blustering blowhard

Always running with a chill goon squad

Ready to ice somebody,

All hail!  and sleet.

The Sun tries to smile, get a look in

But March just bares his gray teeth

And pulls the clouds shut again.




Frostbite, milwaukee, snow, Socks, steam radiators, Sweaters, Things to Do When Your Water Crystallizes on You, Uncategorized, Winter, wisconsin

Not so much Marching as Trudging


21 thoughts on “Not so much Marching as Trudging

  1. Too bad Shakespeare didn’t have schlep, goon, and flimflam in his vocabulary.

    Here it’s February, not March, that has brought the most unkindest cut of all—the cutoff of electricity in frigid weather. Your grandmother’s two weeks was worse than our three days.

  2. A wonderful story about your grandmother, Robert, and an excellent poetic riff on your view of the third month. Ah, March in the northeast – or midatalntic for that matter. I always began shedding my winter coat far too early and would freeze in the winds that blew through Manhattan. If it’s any consolation March doesn’t do that here. In fact this year, we haven’t had a day over the low 50s yet, so no deceptive warm spells fool us into thinking all’s well. 😉

  3. Not sure how I missed this one. Eventually found it, buried in my email.

    It’s true, as well. We’ve had years where the winter has been warm enough to entice grass to grow in February. This year, about the time you posted this, we got 10 inches of snow. March, so far, is still making up its mind whether (weather?) to chuck icicles, rain, or beams of light in our general direction, and has a bad case of indecision. Perhaps the ides of March is short for the ideas of March; beware of what it comes up with.

  4. George says:

    Brilliant as always. But I’m reading this in bed, and now instead of getting up, I’m inclined to pull the covers back over my head and hibernate till April.

    Actually, I’ve been craving the cold weather as I’m off to Scotland tomorrow for some mountain winter skills training. However, after weeks where the threat of no snow has been hanging over us, March is now threatening to dump it in such large quantities as to disrupt travel. If I can’t get to my winter skills course because of the snow that would be the cruellest of ironies for Lying March to inflict.

  5. March is if anything undependable and unpredictable. Sometimes we see early flowers and sometimes we see a foot or two of snow although not this year. Sometimes it comes in like a lion and leaves that way too. And the opposite.
    One of the advantages of a wood stove is heat when there is none and cooking too. 30’s daytime and 20’s nighttime this weekend followed by 40’s and 50’s during the week.

  6. Darts and Letters says:

    In like a lion, out like a lamb…..the saying just about always reminds me of Judy Blume’s Then Again, Maybe I Won’t, when I was a kid and read that book, it was the first time I ever heard the expression about March. I really liked the story about your grandmother and the part about cooking her meals in the fireplace.

    My mom has been seeing me lots of pictures of new snow and ice, from the past several days. Ive been calling her a lot for gardening advice, we laugh about the irony 🙂

    • Yeah, gardening in Michigan, Wisconsin, NY can be pretty challenging and kind of a short growing season. They’re doing more and more greenhouses in upstate NY, there’s a place now with acres of tomatoes,

  7. March brings such hope and disappointment at the same time. In Ohio, where I used to live, we would get those ice storms–in between bouts of sun and warmth-and then back to snow–even in April. Here, in Washington state, there really isn’t that much snow, but the ice can still come in at any time–freezing fog/frost on the road–it’s just such a mixed bag. Sigh. I’m ready for summer.

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