By: Roger Chambers

March is a fickle month, with temperatures in March among the most variable of any month ranging from a low of -15°F to a high in the mid-80s°F. Some years there are late winter snowstorms of 10-15 inches of snow, while others years are virtually snowless.In the Mohawk Valley, some years, the garden can be started in March with root crops and greens planted once the soil can be worked. Even if a later snowfall covers the ground, the snow soon disappears, and crops planted in March sprout by early to mid-April and give the garden an early start. In the North Country and in the hills south of the Mohawk River, this is usually not possible, where March remains generally more of a winter month.

Folklore tells us March is “in like a lion, and out like a lamb” with cold and snowy weather sometimes persisting into early April. However, it can be almost balmy and snowless some years, with temperatures in the 70s or 80s.

Folklore tells us March is “in like a lion, and out like a lamb” with cold and snowy weather sometimes persisting into early April. However, it can be almost balmy and snowless some years, with temperatures in the 70s or 80s.
The average high temperature is 44°F with an average low of 24°F. These average temperatures are ideal for a flow of maple sap, leading to the seasonal production of maple syrup. Maple weekends are held at various maple producers across the region, this year on March 19-20 and April 2-3.

The average high temperature is 44°F with an average low of 24°F. These average temperatures are ideal for a flow of maple sap, leading to the seasonal production of maple syrup. Maple weekends are held at various maple producers across the region, this year on March 19-20 and April 2-3.

For information on specific sites to visit for Maple Weekends, see the web site of the New York State Maple Grower’s Association: https://www.nysmaple.com
March Holidays and Observances
March 2      Texas Independence Day
March 15    Ides of March
Andrew Jackson Day (Tennessee)
March 17    St. Patrick’s Day
March 20    Palm Sunday; Vernal Equinox
March 21    Bird Day (Iowa)
March 25    Maryland Day; Good Friday
Greek Independence Day
March 26    Kuhio Day – Hawaii
March 27    Easter Sunday
March 28    Seward’s Day (Alaska–last Monday)

Some Weekly Observances in March
~1st Week~
Turn-Off the TV Week
~2nd Week~
Chocolate Week
~3rd Week~
National Wildlife Week
~4th Week~
Art Week
Late Winter
Most people are ready for spring after our sometimes long and cold winters. The winter of 2015-16 has been incredibly mild, with the exception of Valentine’s Day Weekend. Even if the rest of February and March is cold, winter has been generally pleasant with little snow. The Miller’s Mills Ice Harvest was canceled in February due to the mild winter and ice too thin to safely harvest.
March Traditions as Spring Begins

America’s Greatest Heart Run Walk, celebrated this year on March 4-5 is one of the largest fundraisers for the American Heart Association. This is a long local tradition going back some 30 or more years. There is a health fair at Utica College on Friday, March 4th, followed by various walks and runs to raise money for research on Saturday.

The St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Utica, this year on March 12, is a large one-day-festival that clearly marks the coming of spring, regardless of the weather. Thousands of people from around the region come out to celebrate with music, often dressed in green for the Parade on Saturday morning on Genesee St; later in the day there are traditional dinners of corned beef and cabbage and for some, green beer, with the focus of festivities later in the day on Varick Street in the brewery district. This parade is one of the largest St. Patrick’s Day Parades in the state. It is an occasion for many to break out of their semi-hibernation of winter and celebrate the coming of spring.
Just after St. Patrick’s Day comes the winter solstice and the official beginning of spring on March 20. Combined with the shift to daylight savings time (this year on March 13 at 2 A.M.) with longer hours of daylight into the evenings, the stranglehold of winter’s cold and darkness is near an end for another year.

March is a big month for Friday fish fries at many different restaurants, churches, and organizations such as the Polish Community Center. This is related to the Lenten Season that begins on Ash Wednesday (this year on February 10), 40 days of fasting and contemplation in preparation for Easter. Fish fries are popular in this area nearly year-round on Fridays, but most especially during Lent.
Easter Sunday certainly is a clear marker of transition to spring as well, and this year occurs on March 27. This most important of Christian holy days has in many ways moved into the secular world, with celebrations of Easter Egg Hunts, the Easter Bunny, and special family feasts rivaling the feasts of Christmas and Thanksgiving.
Many ethnic groups have traditional foods celebrating this time of year such as specially decorated Easter Eggs of the Ukrainians. Feasts of all kinds are common on Easter, ranging from ham to lamb, turkey or lasagna, with many specific ethnic specialties in pastries or other foods.

In the Night Skies for March 2016
Last Quarter – March 1
New Moon – March 8
First Quarter – March 15
Full Worm Moon – March 23
Last Quarter – March 31
Times on March 20
The Vernal Equinox     Rises      Sets
Sun    7:01 A.M.  EDT    7:14 P.M. EDT
Moon    4:43 A.M.    5:38 A.M.
Venus    6:26 A.M.    5:25 P.M.
Mars    12:36 A.M.    10:02 A.M.
Jupiter    5:51 P.M.    6:49 A.M.
Saturn     1:31 A.M.    10:48 A.M.

All of the times for this month are in Eastern Daylight Time, as we “spring forward” at 2:00 A.M. on Sunday, March 13. Sunset on March 12 is 6:04 P.M., while the next day it is 7:07 P.M.

Saturn is near the waning crescent Moon on March 2, while Venus is to the right of the crescent Moon very low in the sky at dawn on the 7th. Jupiter, in opposition, is its largest and brightest for the year and visible all night most of the month. Jupiter is near the Moon, to the upper left on March 21st about midnight. Mars and a dimmer Saturn form a triangle with the Moon on the 29th of March a few hours prior to dawn.

The vernal equinox is on March 20. The Full Worm Moon is on March 23, with Easter a few days later.

Astrology

Pisces February 20-March 20
Aries   March 21-April 20

Roger Chamber’s book, A Sense of Place: An Almanac of Festivals in the Mohawk Valley, is now available at Barnes & Noble. Copies will be available at the Utica Public Library, with a book signing by the author on March 19 from about 11 A.M. to 2 P.M.

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