“I bet the sparrow looks at the parrot and thinks … yes,
you can talk, but listen to yourself!”
¬– Jack Handey, humorist, Saturday Night Live
Only in southern California would you see side-by-side a flock of robins roosting in a birch tree and a flock of squawking green Amazon parrots hanging out in an oak tree … and so goes the first weeks of March, which also reminds me of the old saying, “March comes in like a lion and out like a lamb.”
But not in our yard, where the only creatures spotted were raccoons, possums, squirrels and the birds. And yes, Abby and her new sidekick Mickey (Corgi/Beagle) to complete the yard’s wildlife. What about the weather and lions and lambs?
Santa Ana winds roared into the foothills, not quite the same as a lion, and the temperatures were as mild as a lamb. The conclusion, to this sorted information is – old sayings are fun to ponder and spring’s arrival is imminent.
So we got the proverb reversed and our Crescenta Valley weather was rather lamb-like to start the month. Hopefully by the end of March we’ll hear some roaring in the form of rainstorms. Past years I would say this could be a real possibility, but for now the La Nina pattern is holding strong and keeping most of this season’s precipitation well to the north of us. The report from Bill Patzert, research scientist and oceanographer at JPL: “The chances of that (more rain or snow), is a snowball in hell!”
This year, the chance for more rain is as uncertain as the origin of the lion/lamb proverb.
It’s first written documentation was in English literature in 1624, but like many old sayings it had been passed down verbally through many generations. The weather sayings we inherited with our language are true in the sense that they were based on observations made by real people, including farmers, herders of livestock, and fisherman just to name a few. As they may have been accurate for the location they originated, as the English language carried them out into the world their meanings didn’t quite fit the new locale.
We may never know the exact meaning of “In like a lion and out like a lamb,” but many have been suggested. The one most recognized is based on the positions of two main constellations in the March night sky. At the beginning of the month, after sunset Aries (the ram/lamb) is setting on the western horizon, while to the east Leo is just starting its seasonal appearance. March also marks the end of winter – fierce like a lion and spring – mild like a lamb.
This winter will end as it entered – mild (lamb-like) with little rain and roaring (lion-like) winds. We will end the week with breezy, warm conditions. A cool down, with a chance of rain is expected next week. Umbrella? The forecast is still “up in the air!”
Sue Kilpatrick is a
Crescenta Valley resident and
Official Skywarn Spotter for the
National Weather Service. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.