Have you noticed? Change is in the wind. And it’s not only tumbleweeds.

With trees turning green and flowers blossoming, it’s nature’s perennial rebirth in the Northern Hemisphere, the time of renewal. Spring gets sprung officially this coming Tuesday at 9:06 p.m. when the sun does its thing and crosses the equator. Or is it the earth that does its thing?

Fun fact: On the vernal equinox, the sun rises at due east and sets at due west. If you’re really industrious, you should go out at sunrise Tuesday morning and take note of the position of the sun on the horizon with respect to familiar landmarks. Then, you will always know where due east or west is no matter where the sun rises the rest of the year.

By the way, today (3/14) is National Pi Day, a made-up holiday celebrating the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter. Makes sense to me; a good excuse to head up to Pie Town, where the venerable Pie-O-Neer will be open for pie-loving mathematicians and non-mathematicians alike.

It’s been 20 years since we ran a story on the Pie-O-Neer’s soft re-opening by Kathy Knapp, who ended up being featured in the film The Pie Lady of Pie Town in 2016. Sarah Chaves runs the place now, and apparently, she is as crazy about pie baking as Knapp. Make mine green chile apple, por favor.

Speaking of green, St. Patrick’s Day is nigh. When everyone says they want to eat corned beef and cabbage, drink Guinness and get misty-eyed to the strains of Danny Boy and Too-Ra-Loo-Ra-Loo-Ral. Those are the two Irish songs that immediately pop into my head, but there are other good singalongs, such as Molly Malone and When Irish Eyes Are Smiling.

Generally, I’m told there are four basic themes for Irish folk songs:
* I had too much to drink and I regret nothing.
* We will fight the British forever and ever and ever and…
* I have left Ireland and I shall never be happy again.
* I met a fair bonny lass and she was bonny and fair.

St. Paddy’s Day is when it seems pretty near everyone lays claim to having some sort of Irish heritage. Well, not everyone, but a few made being Irish cool, like the Irish Americans Gene Kelly, Jim Carrey, Georgia O’Keefe, John Kennedy, Rosario Dawson, Conan O’Brien, F. Scott Fitzgerald and Anthony Quinn, who was both Irish and Mexican. Maybe you can add to that list Barrack Obama, whose great-great-great-grandfather on his mother’s side emigrated during the Irish potato famine in 1850.

As for New Mexico, I saw somewhere that seven and a half percent of the population claim Irish ancestry.

Anyway, the Irish have given us more than Irish Spring soap bars and Lucky Charms cereal. According to the website irelandbeforeyoudie.com, there’s Halloween, Oscar Wilde, banshees, Liam Neeson, blarney, leprechauns, and let’s not forget TV’s Father Ted, the priest on Craggy Isle. There’s one other notable import from the Emerald Isle that needs mentioning here: Irish step dancing, the most bewildering display of seemingly being calm and collected from the waist up and wacky insanity from there on down.

From my perspective, it bears a strong semblance to buck dancing, that rural tradition of kicking up a storm while avoiding any appearance of frivolity. If I may, I grew up listening to family stories of the days before radio and TV when my countryfied forebearers would gather on somebody’s front porch with banjo, fiddle, mouth harp, and washboard, depending on whose porch it was. Before long, someone would jump up and start clogging away on the bare wooden planks. And the story goes that when Uncle Jack joined in, everyone would back off and watch.

My great-great-uncle Jack Howard, it’s said, was the king of buck dancing in that neck of the woods. He’d tend to his cows and work the cotton fields all week long, but on any given Saturday night, he’d give his clodhoppers a furious workout, not unlike the Lord of the Dance, Tennessee style. I never witnessed it; it was well before my time, but I can imagine he’d give those Riverdancers a run for their money.

Enough of that.

Take note: If you don’t want to get pinched come Sunday, you’d better wear green. It’s a custom that I thought would fade away after fifth grade, but apparently, a good number of grown-ups still get a kick out of it. Legend has it that if you wear green, you are invisible to fairies and leprechauns, so if you’re not wearing green, people have the responsibility of pinching you to remind you to be on the lookout, lest a leprechaun sneaks up on you and steals your gold. Or something like that.
Just keep in mind that pinching could backfire and get you conked with a shillelagh.