Beware the Ides of March, and Days Thereafter

Submitted by Art and Barb Straub

As educators, March was never an anticipated month. In the ‘good old’ days, parent-teacher conferences would take place mid-March. Parents sometimes had issues with little Annie’s or Alan’s progress; retention might be discussed due to unresolved outcomes; tempers could flare as the calendar said “Spring Has Arrived.” Yet snow and mud-mired boots and shoes abounded; dozens of problems triggered angry outbursts; children and people simply wore out from winter woes. Recalling your history lessons, you may remember that the Roman emperor, Caesar. was assassinated by senators in mid-March…the Ides. St. Patrick’s Day celebrations temporarily lifted the spirits, but not long enough it seemed. With huge piles of snow surrounding households, negative local and world news did little to cheer one.

In the natural world, doom and gloom may prevail as well. For instance, consider the pair of Trumpeter Swans along with merganser ducks serenely enjoying the pleasures of the LeSueur Water Treatment Pond across from the LeSueur Foundry, (LeSueur Incorporated ) north end of LeSueur. Suddenly, out of March’s sullen skies, a pair of eagles dropped down to harass the ducks. The swans became excited, swiftly lifted off the murky waters, and one promptly broke its neck on nearby electrical lines.

Meanwhile, nearby, a black squirrel somehow breached the walls of a steel bird feeder, only to become entrapped in the sunflower seed dispensary, thus was found deceased. LeSueur’s Doris Winter noticed that bird delicacies in her hanging bird feeders had been disappearing overnight. She discovered a wily opossum hanging by its razor-sharp teeth from the wires of the feeder. With considerable effort, she dislodged the uncomfortable beast, he/she thereupon waddled away in the deep snow. Hunger not appeased, muddy marsupial returned again the very next evening to pillage said feeder once more. Hunger drives creatures to forget their natural instincts and to take otherwise dangerous endeavors. All for the sake of life-saving food.

Currently, pheasants flock to gravel roads in the Henderson area, their normal fear of passing traffic giving way to cravings of empty craws/crops. Wandering wild turkeys, near starvation, may be spotted in open fields seeking bare spots whereupon a corn or bean kernel might be discovered, daring hungry raptors to drop down into the gobblers’ angry midst. Other raptors are tempting fate in urban and rural areas, zapping unsuspecting small birds and yes, pilfering large chunks of suet from feeding stations.

Yet, in spite of the Ides, in spite of the rare atmospheric rivers of precipitation in the West, where converging air systems funnel wet air into a river-like flow, valiant Minnesotan’s endeavor, with the help of strengthening sunlight, to lift people up, to encourage signs of hope.
Vern Bienfang, Hwy 169’s waterfowl and mammal caretaker, reports that, in spite of eight-foot snowbanks, ducks began laying eggs on March 6th, a week later than usual, signs of hope indeed. Horned larks, true spring migrating birds, wend their way west and north, blizzards be darned. A few Henderson/LeSueur kidniks are brightening neighborhoods with various sorts of snow people and animals. Yet, a huge sign of making the best from current conditions is the enormous snow person occupying the yard of a creative couple east of LeSueur. Standing guard over their home and filling that yard space is an enormous snow giant. The yeti or abominable snow creature stands close to 25 feet tall, a half-barrel serving as a sort of hat. The sun is taking its toll on ‘the bod,’ and we will not disclose its whereabouts, as the muck of the nearby road will suck small sized autos (and children) into its bottomless belly.

Be of good cheer, the calendar spouts “Spring,” and many of us kids go barefoot March 21st. Besides that, St. Pat’s Day is near, nothing to fear, bring on the green Kool Aid!