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Woodworth: Beware the Ides of March ... it's when Ed Sullivan was canceled

By Elizabeth Woodworth
Contributing writer
Posted on 3/13/2019, 12:01 AM

Termites swarm as the weather moderates. Plant and transplant shade and fruit trees, shrubs, grape vines, strawberries, raspberries and roses. The mass flowering of violets and dandelions now occurs in the South and will arrive in the Lower Midwest in three to four weeks. The 17th is St. Patrick's Day, the traditional time to plant peas and potatoes. The season of flowering fruit trees is underway throughout the South. May apples emerge below the Mason-Dixon Line, morel mushrooms soon to follow. (Countryside)

The first of the hummingbirds should appear in this area around the first of April. Find and clean your feeders, stock up on sugar, be ready. Fill the feeder no more than halfway until the birds start emptying it.

Read that a man in Franklin County bought a $20 scratch off ticket and won $2 million. Oh wow! One year Ron and I decided that we would buy scratch offs, keep account of what we spent and what we won. I will admit straight out that we never dreamed of paying $20 for one ticket, or even that much at a time, which might account for the results of our experiment. He may have spent $5, while I am more conservative, a couple of dollars is big for me. (If I buy a ticket for the mega billion games, the operative word is "a".) At the end of January, we had spent more than we won, and that experiment went by the wayside. Neither of bought tickets again.

March 14 is Pi Day. The thinking behind Pi Day is to celebrate that magic number and all the digits beyond the decimal. I have three friends who are math nerds. I don't really get their fascination with numbers and they don't understand how I can have a math phobia. (We still like each other.) Instead of worrying if Pi is 3.14+++++ or something else, I will bake a pie -- custard, pumpkin/pecan or maybe a comforting chicken pot.

Beware of the Ides of March. My mom and her brother are the only people I knew who celebrated that day. I never discovered why, Mom just talked like it was something they started when in school and just became a habit. All it consisted of was trying to be the first to call the other to say "Beware of the Ides of March." Nothing great, but it meant something to them. All months have ides, but only March gets recognition. In 44 BC Julius Caesar was assassinated. Thanks to Shakespeare we know all about it and that immortal phrase, "Et tu Brute." Czar Nicholas abdicated the throne of Russia in 1917. Germany occupied Czechoslovakia in 1939. In 1941 a light Saturday night snow, turned into a deadly blizzard on the Great Plains with 60 dead in North Dakota and Minnesota and six in Manitoba and Saskatchewan. A survivor said there was a light snow, when a loud rumbling noise was heard and the wind switched, coming out of the north at 60 miles per hour. In 1971, CBS canceled "The Ed Sullivan Show." So the Ides of March have a history of bad things happening.

St. Patrick's Day: He was born in Britain, kidnapped by Irishmen when 16, found religion while in captivity. Ireland never had snakes, may be a metaphor for his driving evil out of the country. In 1927 alcohol was banned on his name day. Until the early 1960s one of the only places in Ireland one could buy beer was at the well-attended Royal Dublin Dog Show. The day ranks as the 4th booziest holiday in America, behind New Year's Eve, Christmas and the 4th of July. Boston and New York both claim to have hosted the first St. Patrick's Day Parade in the 1700s, thought they quibble over the definition of a parade. The first procession honoring the Irish saint may have taken place in 1601 when residents of the Spanish-speaking settlement of St. Augustine marched through the streets in recognition of the saint they considered the official protector of their fields of maize. Montserrat, aka the Emerald Isle of the Caribbean, throws a St. Patrick's Festival that lasts more than a week. In 1962, Chicago Plumbers Local Union 130 started dyeing the Chicago River green for the holiday. Corned beef and cabbage didn't become the quintessential St. Patrick's meal until after the Irish migration to the U.S. Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt were married on St. Patrick's Day in 1905 in New York City. If you don't want one of the estimated 13 million pints of Guinness drunk world wide, try a McDonald's Shamrock Shake, a minty green confection. Beware, a large one contains 800 calories and 113 grams of sugar.

I wish you a pot o' gold and all the joy your heart can hold. And on the day when the whole world is Irish, Happy St. Paddy's Day.

• Elizabeth Woodworth lives in Harrisburg.