This 15th of March brings a very early spring for us. The robins and red-winged blackbirds returned last week, a sure sign of warm weather. Yesterday I heard a killdeer. Those water birds return to nest near our farm pond. Most years if the killdeer arrived this early, they would be dealing with ice and snow. This year the pond is nearly iced out. The next three days of forecast rain should finish off the ice lingering in one corner.
Wild ducks have been flocking inland from the ocean for a couple weeks. Any day I expect to hear the aerial acrobatics of the woodcocks’ mating rituals. Once that starts, spring peeper frogs and mosquitoes are not far behind. Maple syrup season is finishing up as the trees bud. The sap began flowing in early February. Most years March 15 is right in the middle of sap season. An early spring for us, indeed!
The Ides of March are famously associated with the assassination of Julius Caesar. He was killed on March 15, 44 BC by members of the Roman senate who feared his power as a dictator. Shakespeare’s play, Julius Caesar, features a soothsayer warning Caesar to beware the Ides. This bit of fiction led to the date becoming part of our culture.
In ancient Rome, the ides of a month were the middle of the period. The word connoted divide. It was traditionally a time to settle debts. Depending on the length of the month, the ides fell on either the 13th or the 15th. Perhaps Caesar’s killers chose the ides because they symbolically wished to settle their debt with the ruler. The Ides of March are a reminder of the bloody fate of a tyrant, and a warning for all over-reaching politicians.