Sunday, March 1, 2009

In Like a Lion

The newspaper this morning said partly cloudy. Hah! I'll go with the weather predicting skills of the groundhog, The Old Farmers Almanack, and my uncle Lloyd's trick knee. At this point, what I have observed out the 14th floor windows is snow blowing sideways out of the northeast off of Lake Michigan. The National Weather Services says it's 19 degrees with winds out of the northeast at 11 miles per hour.

It is true that this may very well be a localized phenomenon, that we in Streeterville know as Lake Effect Snow. I checked online and apparently it isn't snowing at O'Hare. Those of us right next to the lake are being hammered, though. While perusing the weather online I also noted that they are predicting that New York City may get slammed with up to 14 inches of snow in an early March storm. Good! Snotty New Yorkers always putting down us hardy Midwesterners. Serves em right. Need a little of nature's humbling power every now and again.

Anyway, the verdict is definitely in on that lion or lamb thing for the month of March. The great out of doors for two of the three largest cities in the US of A is undeniably arriving like the leonine beast, slapping us in the face with a "Winter is not over yet," message. Now if the month of March will uphold its end of the bargain and exit in an observably lamblike manner, life will be good and all will be right with the world.

March is an odd month. Winter ends. Spring begins. It's often windy and rainy. Poor old Julius Caesar met his demise in the midst of the month. As a child in Arkansas I could not wait for winter to end and for the warm weather to return so I could shed my shoes and run around in the yard barefoot. I recall one winter day asking my mother when I could go barefoot. She replied "In spring." Then I had to know when spring came. She replied, "In March." That fact stuck in my little kid brain like Super Glue. On March 1st I proudly marched in the kitchen and said, "Mom you said I could go barefoot in March. Can I?" Forget the fact that at the time it was 45-50 degrees outside, wet and rainy, and definitely not barefoot weather. The saner thinking of Mom prevailed and barefootness did not take hold for a while.

March, as I recall, has always been the month where the general windiness causes stores to stock kites. When I was a kid I never really thought about kites,as such, until a Jif Peanut Butter promotion was giving away free kites one particular March. They were yellow and had the Jif kangaroo on them. I bought a lot of stuff in those days based on stuff they would give you for buying their product. I grabbed that jar of Jif peanut butter and showed my Dad the kite that came with it and he saw the gleam in my eye and before you could say "Go fly a kite," I was taking a Jif kangaroo kite (Some assembly required.) home with me. My Dad and Mom and my older brother all worked and didn't have time to help me with it. My older sister wouldn't be bothered with little boys and kites and my little sister was no help at all. I somehow managed to put together that Jif kangaroo kite by myself and attach a ball of twine to it.

At that point it was time to take the kangaroo kite out into the March winds and watch it fly. It must have been one of the few March days on record with no wind whatsoever. I ran and I ran, pulling that kite on its string behind me. It bounced off the ground repeatedly, tearing holes in its paper kangaroo, and eventually breaking its balsam wood frame. Charlie Brown, with his notorious kite-eating tree, had it better. At least his kite was airborne long enough to get stuck in the branches of a tree. My pitiful little kangaroo kite never got more than 6 inches off the ground at any time. I took that broken and torn kite inside and discarded it, never to attempt kite-flying again.

Of course there was a time in my early 20's when I had a girlfriend who had a little boy who had a kite. Couldn't get that sucker airborne for more than 10-15 seconds either. My relationship with said woman and child did not last very long. At age 21 I was not much of a father figure, and I couldn't fly a kite in the March winds to save my life. I was not destined to be a kite-flying guy, or Step-Dad, in the March winds. The month of March, in my memory, is mostly just wet and blustery and cold, with regular flooding. Then comes St. Patricks Day and if you don't wear green, the other kids pinch you.

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