Darrell Huckaby - March runs strong campaign for 'Best Month' award

My friend and I were having a conversation the other morning about the month of March. Yes, after 10 years as a columnist, I still have a friend left; but just the one. It was his contention that March might just be the very best month of the year. He had a Top Ten list of reasons to back up his claim. Honesty compels me to admit that many of his reasons centered on the sports world, but that's OK. I like sports, too, and I must say, he made a compelling argument.

Take the weather, for instance. It is true that March does come in like a lion, more often than not. Two of the biggest snow storms in recent memory came in March. One, the Blizzard of 1993, which was so bad that Nancy Fowler called WSB to cancel the appearance of the Virgin Mary, was predicted. The other - a surprise weather event that dumped seven inches of partly cloudy on my front doorstep in 1983 - was not.

And tornadoes occasionally roar through during March, and when someone tells you to go fly a kite, more often than not they actually mean it. But it also goes out like the proverbial lamb, and we usually say goodbye to winter during the month. In fact, if you keep score, I bet you'll find there are more days when the temperature climbs above 70 than there are nights when it dips below 40. The change in the weather reminds us that another magnificent Georgia spring is close at hand.

Most of us get the urge to take off our shirts and catch a few rays while we work in our yards, trying to reclaim them from the winter doldrums. The people who sell fertilizer and weed killer and bedding plants are thankful, and so are the people who sell ibuprofen and liniment, because if you are like me, you use muscles raking and hoeing and pulling weeds that you haven't used all winter.

March is an aesthetically pleasing month, too. The dogwoods generally don't bloom in March, but the Bradford pears and the cherry trees do. I have both in my yard. The pink cherry blossoms have been peeking out at me for a couple of weeks now, and the white pear blossoms are about to. Plus, the daffodils are awaking from their long winter's naps and those shrubs - are they called yellow bells? - are blooming, too. In other words, the world starts to get warmer and prettier when the calendar claims that March has arrived.

You like an excuse to throw a party? St. Patrick's Day comes right in the middle of the month, allowing the whole country to turn Irish for a day. You can eat, drink and be merry, and you don't have to buy anybody a present.

And we were speaking of sports. NASACR comes to Hampton every March. I know that's a big deal for a lot of people, and they will, in fact, be revving those engines this very weekend. In fact, there are probably several thousand RV's on the grounds right now.

Position players have joined the pitchers and catchers down in Florida, and baseball - with all the baggage the steroid hearings have brought to the game - will be underway in earnest soon, in case anyone still cares. I don't, by the way. I promised that I wouldn't watch an inning until the appropriate asterisks have been placed by the appropriate names in the record books, and I intend to keep my promise - unless I get a chance to watch Maddux go against Smoltz or something.

No. No. Not even then. I will remain steadfast to my promised boycott, but I'm just saying - baseball comes around in March and a lot of people like baseball.

But I didn't make any such promises about the round ball game. March means madness for hoops fans - although all of our local college teams will be sitting out the dance this year. There will still be plenty of action on the tube though, so you might want to stock up on chips and dip and get ready for some serious sofa time. The conference tourneys are only a few days away, in fact, so hang on.

And this year, as an added bonus, we have an early Easter. An early Easter means an early Good Friday, and every grower who is worth his weight in manure knows that Good Friday is the day you should get your garden in the ground for the coming summer.

So there you have it. Warmer weather. Plants in bloom. Plenty of sports action, St. Paddy's Day and Easter. Sounds like a pretty good month to me.

Except for one thing, of course. March is also my birthday month, which quit being a positive thing a long time ago. It's Monday, in case you are wondering, and about the only thing I can say about being a year older is that it is oh so much better than the alternative.

Darrell Huckaby is a local author and educator. He can be reached at dHuck08@bellsouth.net.