Sunday, March 20, 2011

Spring Has Sprung!

Yes, Spring will officially have arrived on March 20, 2011, at 7:21PM EDT (that's us), or 11:21PM Universal Time which is the mean solar time for the meridian at Greenwich, England, used as a basis for calculating time throughout most of the world. Also called Greenwich time, Greenwich Mean Time or UT.

So, say goodbye to winter and say hello to spring with temperatures slowly rising to greet the vernal (spring) equinox. Do you remember what equinox means?

The word “equinox” derives from the Latin words meaning “equal night” and refers to the time when the sun crosses the equator. At such times, day and night are of nearly equal length everywhere in the world.

It is important to note that while the March equinox marks the beginning of spring in the northern hemisphere, it is the start of autumn in many parts of the southern hemisphere.

Yes, it's Spring, when the earth awakens from winter sleep! What a beautiful season this is, with the spring flowers sprouting and the grass turning green, the earth comes alive, and I think we all feel a little more alive, just like that cute little kitten running through the grass.
It’s also a time of balance, when light and dark are equal for a short period of time until the blissful sunshine takes over the better part of our days.

Although we may still have some cold and gloomy days outside, there is sunshine in our hearts because we know today is the first day of Spring! I always love the changing of the seasons.

Spring is when you feel like whistling even with a shoe full of slush.
~Doug Larson

What can we expect weather wise in Spring and otherwise?
Tornado Season
This picture of a tornado in NYC was taken July 7, 1976

March is the traditional start of tornado season in the United States. Although tornadoes can occur at any time throughout the year, the peak activity period is March through early July, according to the National Weather Service (NWS).

An average of 1,200 tornadoes touch down in the United States each year, and most of them form during this tornado season. Because these storms kill about 70 Americans annually and injure some 1,500 others, disaster experts urge families to be prepared — particularly those who live in Tornado Alley.

Tornado Alley is roughly defined as the area of the Central Plains from Texas to Nebraska. This is where most tornadoes form each season. Much of the damage that tornadoes inflict each year occurs in this region of the country. Texas has the highest number of tornadoes, with an average of 124 each year. You may want to stay away from those areas during tornado season.

The first day of Spring - Really?
We heard the forecast for tomorrow, rain possibly mixed with snow. That's March for you. Winter is not ready to leave yet. There have been major snow storms even in the spring
Also, remember too, not only does Spring bring to life the beautiful flowers, but also the weeds and allergies with it.
I found this cute poem that describes the reality of Spring. I think you will like it.
First Day of Spring
It is the first day of Spring today!
The birds are singing ecstatically
The grass seems to actually look greener
The warm air signals that winter is leaving…
though it may take its time packing
in some areas of the country.
Soon the trees will begin to break forth in buds
Seedlings will start their journey
through the earth …to meet the sky
While hibernating creatures all over the planet
will begin to wrestle out of their sleep
to rejoin the animal kingdom.
So will my life change as well
I will wake up with eyes that are itching
Nasal passages that will swell and begin to close
Lungs that will feel scratchy…then become congested
Requiring over the counter medicines to burst forth…

So goodbye winter you were good to me this year. See you again in 9 months from now? Wow, that's not that far away, can you believe it? Or I will see you eleven days before the Kalends of January according to the Roman calendar.

Hello Spring, may we all spring into action especially in the Lord's work!

This is Raven-as the crow flies!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Beware Of The Ides Of March!

That line "Beware of the Ides of March," is a pithy line and people remember it, even if they don't know why. Who said it? Why? And what does it mean? Hopefully this blog will answer those questions.

That line was made popular in William Shakespeare's play Julius Caesar by a soothsayer warning of impending danger to Julius Caesar.

The soothsayer tells Caesar who is already on his way to the Senate (and his death), "Beware the ides of March." Caesar replies, "He is a dreamer, let us leave him. Pass." The Roman ruler, Julius Caesar, was assassinated on the Ides of March - March 15, 44 B.C.E.

According to Plutarch's (a biographer and an historian) account of the story written in 75 A.D., the unidentified soothsayer was a Roman astrologer by the name of Spurinna. It was reportedly sometime prior to the fateful day of March 15 that Spurinna had first given Caesar the famous warning to "beware of the Ides of March." The astrologer, Spurinna, had previously warned Caesar that on the Ides of March, he would be in great danger. If, however, Julius Caesar took care on that one day - then all would be well.

According to Plutarch, Caesar had previously made the wise decision to stay within the safety of his bedroom chambers on the 15th of March. However, Caesar's "friend" Decimus (Albinus) Brutus (not Marcus Brutus) managed to convince him that the astrologer's warnings were nothing more than superstitious foolishness. So Julius Caesar decided to attend the Senate on the 15th of March. On his way to the Senate, Caesar "accidentally" met up with the astrologer, Spurinna. Caesar then told the astrologer "The Ides of March are come." Spurinna answered, "Yes, they are come, but they are not past." Later that day - on March 15, 44 B.C.E - Caesar's enemies assassinated him in the Pompey theater, at the foot of Pompey's statue, where the Roman Senate was meeting that day in the temple of Venus.

Et tu Brute
"Thou, too, Brutus!" Julius Caesar's exclamation when he saw that his old friend, Marcus Brutus (85-42 BC), was one of his assassins. "Does my old friend raise his hand against me?"

What Are the Ides?

In the ancient Roman calendar, each of the 12 months had an "ides." In March, May, July and October, the ides fell on the 15th day. In every other month, the ides fell on the 13th.

The word "ides" was derived from the Latin "to divide." Ides just means the middle of the month according to the Roman calendar.

Basic Roman Calendar

The Kalends
fell on the first of each month
The Nones were on the 5th or 7th (depending on the month) and
The Ides fell on the 13th or 15th, again depending on the month.

The Romans did not count days of the month from 1-30, but rather the day before the Nones of March or the Day before the Ides of April.

In the case of April, the day before the Ides would be what we call April 12, because the Ides of April (unlike March) fall on the 13th.

The date was never spoken in the past, as in the day after the Ides. It was always in relation to the upcoming of the 3 days. April Fool's Day was The Kalends of April.

The Roman Calendar is basically broken down as follows:

The Kalends:
March 1, April 1, May 1, June 1, July 1, August 1, September 1, October 1, November 1, December 1, January 1, February 1

The Nones:
March 7, April 5, May 7, June 5, July 7, August 5, September 5, October 7, November 5, December 5, January 5, February 5

The Ides:
March 15, April 13, May 15, June 13, July 15, August 13, September 13, October 15, November 13, December 13, January 13, February

So for example, if your birthday fell on November 21 in the Roman calendar it would be ten days before the Kalends of December.

And so, it was the Ides of March in 44 BC, that Julius Caesar was betrayed by friends and murdered in the streets of Rome.

Until that day Julius Caesar ruled Rome. The traditional Republican government had been supplanted by a temporary dictatorship, one that the famous leader very much wished to make permanent.

But Caesar's quest for power spawned a conspiracy to have him killed, and on March 15 a group of prominent Romans brought him to an untimely end in the Senate House. He was 55 years old.
Of all the lines in the play, "Beware of the Ides of March" seems to be the one most people remember, followed closely by (or perhaps surpassed by) "Et tu, Brute?"

I hope this blog has helped you as much as it has helped me to know the meaning of that popular phrase.

Until we meet again...

This is Raven- as the crow flies!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

The Crow Moon In March

What Is A Crow Moon? The Crow Moon is the last full moon before the arrival of Spring, when the snow and ground begin to thaw.

To keep tract of the seasons, the Native American tribes of the northern and eastern part of the United States (from New England to Lake Superior), would give each full moon a distinctive name. The full moon in March was known as a Crow Moon or Full Crow Moon, when the cawing of the crows signaled the end of winter.

This year the Crow Moon falls on March 19th, 2011.

It is of interest to note the Crow Moon was also called the Worm Moon because as the temperature in March begins to warm and the ground begins to thaw, earthworm casts appear, heralding the return of the robins.

Another name the moon was given this time of year was Full Crust Moon, because the snow cover becomes crusted from thawing by day and freezing at night.

Then too, It was also know as Full Sap Moon, because it was marking the time of tapping maple trees.

However to the settlers, it was also known as the Lenten Moon, because this moon occurred during Lent and was considered to be the last full moon of winter.

And so my dear friends, The Crow Moon will soon be upon us, and what that means is winter is coming to an end and Spring is around the corner.

However, because March brings in spring and ends the winter, March can be both wintry and springlike. Blustery, windy days occur as frequently as mild, sunny days, so don't put away the winter clothes just yet.

Have you seen any signs of spring yet, like hibernating animals such as bears (depending on where you live), chipmunks, and woodchucks leaving their winter sleeping places ending their hibernation? Also, this is the time you will see sap flow in the trees, and green buds beginning to appear, and many plants coming to life again. The first pussy willows and wild flowers can be found in the woods and our back yards. Most frogs lay their eggs. Wild geese and ducks begin their northward flights.

So March, you fickle month, what can we expect? Let it be said in rhyme:

"The March wind roars
Like a lion in the sky,
And makes us shiver
As he passes by.
When winds are soft,
And the days are warm and clear,
Just like a gentle lamb,
Then spring is here."
- Author Unknown

Spring Cleaning

"March bustles in on windy feet
And sweeps my doorstep and my street.
She washes and cleans with pounding rains,
Scrubbing the earth of winter stains.
She shakes the grime from carpet green
Till naught but fresh new blades are seen.
Then, house in order, all neat as a pin,
She ushers gentle springtime in."
- Susan Reiner

"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."
- Charles Dickens

"March is a tomboy with tousled hair, a mischievous smile, mud on her shoes and a laugh in her voice."
- Hal Borland

Remember to push the clocks ahead for Sunday March 13th, And oh yes, "Beware of The Ides of March."

This is Raven- as the crow flies!