Mad as a March Hare, Mad as a Hatter
The March Hare is not a randomly named character in Alice in Wonderland. “Mad as a March hare” is an English expression referring to the peculiar behavior of hares during mating season when, among other odd activities, disinterested females use their forelegs to box off amorous males. I didn’t know any of this an American child and, further, thought “mad” meant “angry”. Why was the Mad Hatter angry?
He wasn’t, of course. “Mad” means “nutty” to the English, and “mad as a hatter” comes from when mercury was used to process hat felt. Hat factory workers eventually got mercury poisoning and went “mad.” Those crazy Brits. They have another word for everything.
What’s making me mad is climate change. It’s not just those irrepressible mental images of crumbling, far-away polar ice in Al Gore’s documentary giving me a rash; it’s how at least one season every year is now whacked out. So far: a truncated, nearly snowless winter. That snow is gone. Even the mud is almost gone. Golf courses are opening and people are smacking balls—no doubt to the distracting aroma of liquid manure, as farmers have gotten clearance to spread the vile potion earlier this year.
A friend mentioned a column I wrote 15 years ago about those Vermont homes you see with mass quantities of cut wood outside, inducing jealousy with their display of cozy security and relative wealth. She recalled that column as being about “wood envy”, which is much funnier than what I actually wrote. Our conversational point being that even ordinary people didn’t use up their wood this winter.
What’s been good for home-heaters has been bad for the ski industry. Which affected our tourism industry; no one comes to Vermont for MUD. Our sugaring season was totally screwy, and now Sugar on Snow parties are being conducted with antiquated Sno-Cone® machines retrieved from attics. Hey, we have Sugar on Snow parties in March, snow or no snow. It’s what we do. The show must go on.
For those of us whose preferred season is winter and whose favorite spice is bacon, an early onset spring is a drag. I for one am hardly ready for gardening, golf, or mosquitoes. And I’m definitely not ready for salads. When temps hit the 80s last week (in March?), many were McLovin’ it, scampering about in terry rompers yelling “This is great!” I’m thinking: “This is creepy.” My ‘hood smelled like a hot sheet of baking septic. Which says something about the “mud” liberally spread chez nous by Irene.
Like some of you, I’m just not ready, man. I miss my long winter’s naps and digging into a good book under a heavy blanket. Snowshoes in the corner now seem quaint relics better suited as decorative wall hanging purposes than tools of fun. But you know March: mad as a hatter and out like a lion. After some torrid days, it’s back to that limbo when you’ve got the WINTER box of clothes cozied up next to the SUMMER box until…Mother Nature makes up her bloomin’ mind. It’s an excellent time of year to get sick. And to kill seedlings left on the porch at night by mistake.
Might as well run with it; we can fight the weather no more than we can the passage of time. Pretty soon mother mooses, pregnant with the next round, will be giving their yearlings the hoof and those bewildered sons will roam the Land wreaking havoc. Mother humans will be handing their babies to the last Republican standing (“Here, take this!” Snap.) With shorts season thrust unexpectedly upon us ahead of schedule, we must quickly trade in our doughy thighs, Ben and Jerry’s “camel’s hump in front”, and pastry bottoms for firm haunches, ripped abs, and glutes of concrete.
Sounds like a lot of work. Wellll, the alternative is sporting thick swags of mottled goobermeat in our bathing suits two months earlier than usual. So shelve the bacon and break out your juicers, kayaks, and athletic supports. It’s maddening but we’ll adjust. With felt hat on head and racket in hand and crazy, glowing Village of the Damned eyeballs rolling in our heads, we’ll sally forth in an energetic manner as if this were all a perfectly normal—and good—day.