March began two days ago, but right now it just looks and feels like an extension of January. Midwestern March is a tough month, perhaps unreasonably so when one looks at a calendar.

To be sure, it is long – inconsiderately long, since it follows the shortest month of the year. Out of sorts and feeling cross for no meritorious reason, we become the March Hare.

The month started out with a holiday, Pulaski Day, honoring one of the mercenaries without whom the American Revolution would not have succeeded.

Sports fans just recovered from February’s Olympic fever will soon be breaking out in March Madness, attentive to the squeal of rubber on basketball courts instead of skates on ice and skis on mountainsides.

Some will observe the Ides of March, when otherwise loyal followers assassinate their leader. But, time to celebrate again – everyone is Irish on St. Patrick’s Day,

Astronomical spring begins March 20 with the vernal equinox; the date, half daylight and half night, provokes just modest celebration here in Evanston. Time was, “The Wizard of Oz” would air at the beginning of spring, sanitizing scariness and replacing a fearsome natural disaster with guileless destruction of evil.

Yes, March has a lot to offer, if one digs out from under that gray. It is a month to shape up, to marshal our attention on the months ahead and be ready for the – yes – march of time that pulls us through till New Year’s. With luck, the month that started with snow and ice will end with mud, the wintry landscape subside into the colors of aconite, crocus, snowdrops, hellebore and maybe even forsythia. Maybe these are the harbingers of warmer weather or maybe they will appear only to mock us for thinking winter is over. Maybe that’s why March ends with April Fool’s Day.