March in Cleveland can bring some of the worst winter weather of the year. But March also offers some major harbingers of spring.
Like the Cleveland International Film Festival. The festival itself has nothing to do with spring—I mean, it’s not like they screen 150 movies about nice weather—but it takes place at what is supposed to be the end of winter, and sometimes is the end of winter, but sometimes isn’t. A few years ago, the biggest snowstorm of the year took place on a Saturday in the middle of the film festival.
I decided to chance it—I had tickets to three CIFF films that day—so I drove down to Tower City from the top of Cedar Hill. I kept to the major roads all the way there, but none had been plowed. Luckily, I was able to follow a big truck and drove in its tracks. I didn’t see any other cars along the way, and I figured I was going to be the only one there. I thought they might give me a prize—maybe a pass for the rest of the festival—for being so loyal.
But when I reached the film festival, the usual crowd was present. You still had to wait in the lines to get into your movies. Because it’s Cleveland and everybody knows that if you want to do something during the winter, you just go and do it.
Actually, this year, the film festival begins on March 29 and runs through April 9. But the first week of April in Cleveland is usually just like an extra week of March, weather-wise. Which is why I never go to Cleveland Indians opening days.
But I do participate in Cleveland Indians spring training—in a way. That activity does not take place in Cleveland; it happens in Phoenix, Arizona, where it’s never winter. But spring training is immediately followed by the actual baseball season, and that is in the spring, so spring training puts baseball fans into virtual spring, psychologically, even though some opening-day games of the real baseball season are halted by snow. Like the one they tried to play here a few years ago and couldn’t finish; and then wound up moving the whole opening series to Milwaukee.
But, still, baseball means spring and summer. And Indians spring training games are broadcast over the radio, with a few on TV, so you can listen to them or watch them, and regardless of the weather in Cleveland, it feels like spring. For three hours. If you don’t look outside.
And then there’s Purim/Passover/Easter. Purim is a Jewish holiday that celebrates . . . well, I’ll simplify it: It’s one of many Jewish holidays that may be summed up by: “They tried to kill us. We won. Let’s eat.” (In the case of Purim, the big food thing is hamantaschen, a triangular, filled pastry.) Purim always comes in March.
Passover and Easter sometimes come in March, but more often in April. Passover is another one of those Jewish holidays described above. There are a lot of things that Jews can’t eat during the week of Passover, but there are lot of other things they can, that they don’t during the rest of the year; a trade-off. And it begins with a big feast, the Seder, which also includes a long service before you get to eat that big feast; another trade-off. We Jews invented the trade-off.
Easter falls on the first Sunday after the first full moon after the vernal equinox. The spring equinox is normally March 21, so it’s possible for Easter to come as early as March 22. Sometimes there is deep snow on Easter and sometimes, like two years ago, it’s 75 degrees.
But my main point here—and maybe I haven’t made it totally clear—is that if there’s a big snowfall in late March or early April, and your car gets stuck in a snowbank in your driveway, don’t shovel it out, don’t call AAA, don’t get people to push it out, don’t do anything. Because you know that in a few days, it’s going to warm up and the snow will melt. And when you see my car stuck in a snowbank in my driveway in late March/early April, you’ll thank me for the reminder.
David Budin is a freelance writer for national and local publications, the former editor of Cleveland Magazine and Northern Ohio Live, an author, and a professional musician and comedian. His writing focuses on the arts and, especially, pop-music history.