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Posts Tagged ‘The Ides of March’

 

“One swallow does not make a summer, but one skein of geese, cleaving the murk of a March thaw, is the spring.”  Aldo Leopold, A SAND COUNTY ALMANAC

Sunday, as I was coming out from church, I saw 4 Canadas overhead—travelers with an agenda.  They were heading due north.  They were the gigantic Canadas, the kind pictured above at our northern home, not the wussie little ones that remain in open ponds around Southern Wisconsin all winter.  (Actually, the little ones are not so wussie.  They’re opting to brave the cold rather than fly to balmy Texas gulf shores.)

Although farmers get fed up with Canada geese camping in cornfields, I’ll never get my fill of these harbingers of change.  Up north, we watch them raise their families, as flotillas of Canada (not “Canadian”) geese cruise in our bay.  The Canadas pass up our wild yard, and head for our neighbor Jack’s green lawn.  Jack mows and cultivates real grass—the better for eating and pooping upon, my dear.  We’ve had countless chuckles over Jack’s goose yard, and the price he pays for trying to have a suburban golf course type spread in the otherwise gorgeous north woods!  

Mating for life, the Canadas are diligent parents.  When we canoe up the Elk River in summer, invariably a papa goose will soar out in front of us—flying low and honking like there is no tomorrow, in an effort to divert us from his family nesting nearby.

Now, advancing into March, we’ll see hundreds of straight Vs fly over in the days ahead.  The wavy lines in the sky will be the snow geese, another thrilling species of migrating birds.  March brings excitement to anyone with open eyes and ears!

Every March, I recall high school days and the soothsayer’s warning to Julius Caeser:  “Beware the ides of March”, in Shakespeare’s JULIUS CAESER—read by most every student in his or her sophomore year. 

Over recent years I’d forgotten what the “ides of March” were—but I recently asked my friend Wikipedia, and he bailed me out.  (How great to have ready reference to the many questions that surface every day and week!)  Here is the answer, which probably most of you readers already know: 

“Ides of March (Latin: Idus Martii) is the name of 15 March in the Roman calendar, probably referring to the day of the full moon. The term ides was used for the 15th day of the months of March, May, July, and October, and the 13th day of the other months.[1] The Ides of March was a festive day dedicated to the god Mars and a military parade was usually held. In modern times, the term Ides of March is best known as the date that Julius Caesar was killed in 44 B.C. Julius Caesar was stabbed (23 times) to death in the Roman Senate led by Marcus Junius Brutus, Gaius Cassius Longinus and 60 other co-conspirators.”  Wikipedia

Since I have a “chain link” mind—one link leading to another—I couldn’t help musing over the fine quality of education which we received in the 1940s and early 1950s.  The teachers in my high school (in the Milwaukee suburb of Wauwatosa) were dedicated to their subjects.  They had been classically trained in their discipline of choice, and they had not been burdened with the necessity of focusing on “studies” in “learning how to teach”.*

An abject passion for English literature, history, chemistry, or whatever, made for good teachers—and immersion in academics created excellence in the classroom.  I know that my high school English teacher, Julia Henninger, was far more wrapped up in Shakespeare and Milton than in whatever material benefits she may or may not have been receiving for her life’s work.  I am thankful for the education I received in school, and for the awareness of history and classical literature that resulted from my privilege of growing up in a family of serious readers.

To tie up this nebulous ramble, by the ides of March we’ll probably have seen many more of those thrilling northbound travelers!

Margaret L. Been©2011

*I went off to Colorado University in 1951, armed with a passion for English and French language and literature.  By the time I enrolled in my sophomore year at the University of Wisconsin at Madison, I realized that in order to teach I would have to take so many “education” classes that I wuld not have the freedom to immerse myself deeply into all the English and French classes I craved.

So I simply continued in my areas of passion.  I accrued more than the English and French credits required for a double major by the time I left school (after completing the first semester of my junior year) to embark on the amazing career of raising 6 children.  And I’ve never stopped reading!

When we love to read and learn, we continually grow.  Self-education may not put us in the upper echelons of Corporate America pay scale, but it definitely provides a varied and in-depth education.  As long as we have libraries, self-education is free and available to all Americans.

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