Thursday, March 15, 2012

The Ides of March, Daffodils and Erin Go Bragh!

3/14/12 Chatterbox
Betty Kaiser

March is a quirky month. Weather wise it comes in like a lion before ushering in spring and Daylight Savings time. Then it hopefully goes out like a lamb. Truly though, March weather is unpredictable. We have a little bit of everything—rain, snow, hail, ice, sleet, wind and eventually—sunshine.

Looking at the calendar I see that we’re nearly halfway through the month. In Roman times, March 15, was called the Ides of March. Some years it coincided with the first day of spring but most notably it was a deadline for settling debts.

Today we remember it as a dark day in Roman history. The popular Julius Caesar was warned by soothsayers to “Beware the Ides of March” and avoid the upcoming Senate meeting. He did not heed that warning and went anyway.

There, at the foot of a statue of Pompey, several assassins and his close friend Marcus Brutus stabbed him to death. He was 56 years old and the year was 44 B.C. Thanks to Shakespeare, the fulfilled prophecy was forever immortalized.

But fortunately, March is much more than the bearer of bad news. It is also chock full of things to celebrate. This abbreviated list of historical events shows that March is also a productive month albeit with an epic earthquake thrown into the mix:

• In 1797 Nathaniel Briggs patented the first washing machine.
• On March 17, 1845, the rubber band was invented.
• In 1862, the U.S. government issued paper money for the first time.
• On March 29, 1886, Coca Cola was invented.
• On March 19, 1911, the first International Women’s Day was held to advance women's rights in the workforce, politics and society.
• On March 12, 1912, the Girl Scouts were founded.
• On March 28, 1964, Anchorage Alaska, was struck by the second biggest earthquake ever recorded (9.2). I remember it well.

The return of color in our gardens is another thing to celebrate in the month of March. Daffodils are blooming and tulips are poking their heads out of the ground. Azaleas, camellias and rhododendrons are nearly ready to burst with fat, colorful bulbs; and deciduous trees and bushes are also getting ready to pop.

After a long, dreary winter, if you’ve got cabin fever and need to get out of the house, this is the weekend to do it. Every year on the third weekend in March, thousands of visitors from around the state flock to Ferguson Road in Junction City to view mile after country mile of golden daffodils and enjoy a day of family activities.

If you’re familiar with Junction City’s Scandinavian Festival, you know that these folks know how to put on a party! They don’t just keep an “official” celebration of spring to themselves—they welcome everyone who wants to come. In fact, over the years, the festival has grown from one day to two, adding new features each year.

The Long Tom Grange, on Ferguson Road, sponsors the annual Daffodil Drive & Festival. After you survive the daffodil thrill, the event has free parking and admission on Saturday and Sunday, Mar. 17 and 18. Then you can enjoy free entertainment, a classic car display, wagon rides, an art show, cinnamon rolls, quilt displays and craft booths. I suggest you start with the cinnamon rolls!

And just in case you’re wondering, the music on Saturday and Sunday is from 11 a.m. — 3 p.m. It includes the Richard Spence Trio, the Whiskey Chasers (bluegrass), Janet Little, Taylor Malone (finger-picking guitar), Steve Lbach (Blues guitar) and Skip Jones.

Probably the biggest thing on everyone’s March radar is March 17. That’s the day that everyone is a little Irish in honor of Saint Patrick of Ireland, who brought Christianity to the Emerald Isles. It’s a day to be wearing the green and celebrate Irish history, traditions and customs.

Food, of course, figures into the celebration. Nearly 34 million Americans of Irish heritage will be putting corned beef and cabbage, Irish soda bread and Shepherd’s Pie on the dinner table. Traditional Irish desserts are a bit heavy. I usually think that something light and fruity is in order. Chocolate chip mint ice cream or pistachio pudding are light, colorful and easy on the cook.

Or you could check out this delicious recipe for a fruit pizza that my friend Kaylen served recently. It is not only beautiful to look at but delicious to eat. The fresh fruit nestled in the cream cheese topping on the cookie dough crust is simply scrumptious. Also, the green kiwi will fit perfectly into the color scheme of the day.

Kaylen M.

1 pkg. refrigerated sugar cookie dough
1 - 8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 - 7 oz. jar marshmallow cream
Assorted bite-sized fresh fruit
1 jar strawberry glaze

Slice cookie dough; arrange on 14-inch pizza pan and press to form crust. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 to 14 minutes or until golden brown. Cool. Blend cream cheese and marshmallow cream in bowl. Spread over cookie crust.

Arrange concentric circles of fruit such as Strawberries, pineapple, kiwi fruit, raspberries and blueberries. Drizzle glaze over top using decorating tube. Cut into wedges (8 – 16).

After dinner, you might say together this Old Gaelic Blessing: “May the roads rise with you, and the wind be always at your back; and may the Lord hold you in the hollow of His hand.”

Betty Kaiser’s Chatterbox is about people, places, family, and other matters of the heart.