March: In Like a Lion

 

For Dallas/Fort Worth, the month of March — or as I like to call it, “the Schizo Month” — is a transitional one, stuck as it is in the uncertainty between winter and spring. I suppose this is true over most of the Northern Hemisphere, but in my experience it’s especially noticeable here in North Texas. Sure, it’s windy as hell, but that’s to be expected; March is well known, after all, for coming in like a lion. On the other hand, it goes out like a lion, too — although I understand it’s known to go out like a lamb in other climes. If the old saying’s anything to go by, March lasts through mid-April at least in the Metroplex. It’s not just gentle breezes you’ll feel, either. I’ve known March winds to blow a fully loaded book-cart 10+ feet down the sidewalk in front of the little bookshop I used to own, and on most days I could hear it howling around the exterior like a demented ghost.

 

But that’s part of the month’s charm, really. What I can really do without is that period in the first half of the month when the world can’t decide whether it’s spring or still winter, so instead of making up its mind one way or another, it alternates. It seems odd to have an 80° day followed immediately by a frosty one. Hard freezes are also annoyingly common in the first two weeks of the month. Remember how I mentioned once that this always caught the plum tree at my old house by surprise, just as it was blooming out? Typically, we ended up with no plums at all because all the lovely blossoms were turned into flowersicles. This didn’t happen this past March, faith and begorrah, and so most of the plums survived long enough to get eaten by the friendly neighborhood squirrels.

 

Nonetheless, you’ll find me rooting for the cold weather in early March. Why? Because the alternative is so damned horrible. While most of the warmer days are merely warm, occasionally we’ll get a rehearsal of the D/FW summer: 95 soul-wrenching degrees and more. After a stretch of cool weather, this is like getting hit on the head with a rubber mallet (and yes, I do know what that feels like). It’s worse when the humidity is high, though this hasn’t been much of a problem for the last 5-7 years, given our drought conditions. The drought appears to be over, however; Mother Nature seems bound and determined to make up for <> those years all at once, and so our average rainfall is three times higher than normal so far. In any case, March is usually the last hurrah for the rainy season, which under normal circumstances trails off in mid-April and doesn’t get going again until September. Last year the rainy season came late and stayed late, and in fact it hasn’t really ended yet, even though it’s early July.

 

By late March, the weather has usually settled down, though the winds are still blowing and it’s still raining regularly. While there are a few hot days, the nights are cool and daytime temperatures seldom rise about 80°. With the warm weather comes a stirring to life of all the businesses and attractions that depend on warm weather to function, from Six Flags amusement park to the fishing in local lakes. And is it any surprise that this annual renaissance coincides with my birthday, March 19? I think not.