When I went outside this morning I saw, on the tree next to where my car was parked, a male and female cardinal, sitting together comfortably. You’re a day early, I thought.

In European folklore, Valentine’s Day–tomorrow–is the day when all birds choose their mates. It is thought of as a precursor to spring. In Europe the seasons run much like, though about a month ahead of those in America; so February 14 is more like our March 14, and likely does feel like spring is around the corner. Here, we must wait until March, at least.

March is named for the Roman god Mars, a god of fertility. Oh, I know, most of us know of Mars as the god of war, but that came later. In the Roman worldview, war was a matter of control. While the Greek god of war, Ares, was a god of chaos, the Roman god Mars was a god of control. Originally, that control applied to the land, which must be controlled to produce the crops we need. There is a constant battle between humans and nature to keep the land arable and productive. Later, that idea of control extended to making war on their neighbors to bring ever more land under Roman control, and thus Mars became a god of war as well. Both plowing and military campaigning begin in March.

We have had a rough winter, with more snow and ice than the past three or four winters, and everyone is ready for spring. For me, this March spells the last month I will be living in the small flophouse apartment I rented a few years ago. I have things in my personal life more or less under control, and I am ready to move onto somewhere nicer.

Ready for spring, ready for March.