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March 2003

March On

Some ideas on how to get through a miserable March

I’m not mad about March. It’s the month that can’t make up its mind whether to be winter or spring and consequently also the month of sartorial struggle. However closely you listen to the weather forecast, you’re going to end up shivering in skimpy spring clothes on some days and puce-faced in your winter woollies on others. If you’re dying to get into short sleeves and sandals but don’t want to risk pneumonia, you can always head out to the city’s Botanical Gardens, as our cover girl, Renate, did and take a walk around the Tropical Butterfly exhibition, which runs until the end of the month.

March is the month in which Christians traditionally observe Lent. Beginning on Ash Wednesday, this year it’s March 5, and ending on the Saturday of Easter weekend, these 40 days—it’s actually 46 days but Sundays are not counted—are considered a time of repentance, self-denial and spiritual renewal. In theory the idea of making a fresh start to coincide with the onset of spring makes sense, however denial at this time when most of us are feeling run-down and longing for a little warmth and sunshine seems particularly hard. If the story that Starkbier (see News and Views), the potent beer served during March, was invented by monks to help them get through this time is true, then they have my understanding.

Sometimes, of course, March is wonderfully warm and sunny. Sensible people then head out to the nearest park to enjoy the fresh air and flowers. I say sensible because if you decide to stay at home, remember that harsh March light will show up every cobweb and dust mote, and before you know it you’ll be thinking about doing some spring cleaning. If, like me, you hate cleaning, the best policy is probably to draw attention away from the dirt. Check out our feature on DIY workshops, sign up for a class on, say, metalworking or textile printing. Then you can spruce up your home with tasteful hand-made objects and nobody will think to look in the corners. Once you’ve given your home a little makeover, why not invite some friends over and order a meal from one of the take-out restaurants described in this month’s Taster’s Choice.

Another disadvantage of the unpredictable and often inclement weather this month is that it can take the fun out of traveling. For this reason we have chosen the town of Hallein in Austria for our travel feature. Hallein is not only home to an internationally renowned museum on the Celts, you can also get out of the wind and rain by visiting the nearby salt mines or strolling around the museum dedicated to the composer and musician Franz Xaver Gruber, who composed the carol “Silent Night.”

Strangely, for such a dreary time of year, March is birthday month for a disproportionately large number of artists and musicians. Chopin, Haydn, Bach, Elton John and Andrew Lloyd Webber make up the musical birthday contingent and artists include Michelangelo, Goya, Tiepolo and Mondrian. Our arts page this month may feature a February-born painter, Carl Spitzweg, but the inspirational exhibition of his work at the Haus der Kunst is still the perfect antidote to the rough winds of March.

Finally, whatever the weather and however high or low your spirits in this season, there is one thing we will all be watching: the situation in Iraq. In this month’s Last Word, Angela Wilson, MUNICH FOUND’S editor and publisher, looks at why war, even as a last resort, is always the worst of all options.

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