March 9, Monday - Napoleon Bonaparte wed Josephine de Beauharnias, 1796.

March 10, Tuesday - Clare Booth Luce born, 1903. Oscar Mayer born, 1888.March 11, Wednesday - Lawrence Welk born, 1903. Blizzard, eastern seaboard, 1888.

March 12, Thursday - Full sap moon. Eclipse of the moon. St. Gregory. American poet and novelist, Jack Kerouac born, 1922.

March 13, Friday - Susan B. Anthony died, 1906. Beware triskaidekaphobia (fear of the number 13) especially on Friday the 13th.

March 14, Saturday - Halley's Comet returned, 1986. Gold standard adopted, 1900.

March 15, Sunday - Cincinnati Red Stockings, first professional baseball team, established, 1869.

Ask the Old Farmer's Almanac: Does the word "nightmare" come from the old fear of night airs?

- H. P.Y., San Diego, Calif.

Answer: 'Fraid not, but it's an interesting conjecture. Back before the flushable toilet, chamber pots and the like were sometimes dumped out the window into a ditch or, in the case of the great castles, the wastes probably acumulated in the moat, so it's no wonder people closed their windows against the night airs. It must have been a nightmare - but it didn't spawn the word. In rome, the night air from the surrounding fields was believed to cause malaria. It was only later that mosquitoes were discovered to be the real culprits.

Nightmares come from a different source, which is the old belief that evil spirits or goblins could inhabit one's sleeping hours and take over the sleeper's body during the night. These were night "mares" or goblins, sometimes referred to as "husband of the night" or "wife of the night" and even believed to take sexual advantage of sleepers (thus the occasional erotic dream). In ancient Egypt, the god Bes, a jovial midget, was supposed to protect sleepers from nightmares. Likenesses of the god were hung in the bedroom or sometimes even carved into headboards or the bedposts to prevent inauspicious dreams. The Anglo-Saxon word "mare" is sometimes defined as a monster or pspirirt and it was believed by some that it sat on sleepers' chests at night and stopped their breathing. "Night hags" was the term for nightmares in Middle Ages.

Ask the Old Farmer's Alomanac: When the days first start getting longer, around the Winter Soltice, do they lengthen at the beginning of the day or at the end?

- J.P., Malden, Mass.

Answer: Good question! That's what alamanacs are for - they give you that sort of detailed information on the left-hand calendar pages where you can look up the length of day and the moment of sunrise and sunset, along with all sorts of other pertinent information on the tides and moon and sun. If you look back at the December 1997 calendar (the 1998 Old Farmer's Almanac includes that page), you'll notice that the days were getting shorter and shorter by about a minute a day right on through the Soltice on December 21, and until Christmas when the length of day increased by a whole minute. (Be grateful!) That first minute of the longer days got tacked onto the end of the day, when the sun set at 4:176 p.m. instead of 4:16 as it had the day before. We're talking Eastern Standard Time, here, of course, seeing that you're from the Boston area. That trend continues, with another late-afternoon minute of daylight being added each day right on until about July 3, when you start to lose a minute a day in the afternoon again.

But look at the sunrise times, starting again in December. The sunrises keep 0 getting later and later by a minute a day through all of December and until January 6, when it's earlier by a minute. That trend of earlier sunrises then starts to speed up, so that in February you'll see an occasional two-minute-earlier rise, and by March the sunrise is about 2 minutes earlier on MOST days, while the later sunsets keep plodding along at only about an additional minute a day.

Ask the Old Farmer's Almanac: What can you tell us about the lunar eclipse this month?

- J.H., Oakdale, La.

Answer: March 12 and 13 mark a penumbral eclipse of the moon and the beginning phase will be visible in North America, except in Alaska and parts of Canada, notable the more northwestern parts. The end of the eclipse will be visible as well, in North America.

The moon enters penumbra at 9:14 p.m. Eastern Standard Time (6:14 p.m. Pacific Standrd Time), and leaves penumbra on March 13 at 1:26 a.m. EST (or March 12 at 10:26 p.m. PST).

Two penumbral eclipses of the moon will occur in 1998; one on Aug. 7, visible ine astern protions of North America, and one on Sept. 6, visible in North America except in the exteme eastern protions.

However, having told you all this, we also have to tell you that a penumbral eclipse is really nothing to write home about! The penumbra is the area of partial darkness that surrounds the umbra (the central, completely dark part of Earth's shadow). When even a portion of the moon passes through the umbra, we see a partial eclipse, but when the moon passes only through the penumbra, the naked-eye eclipse watcher may not even notice a change in the moon's brightness. Unfortunately, the next partial eclipse is not until July 28, 1999, and it will occur after sunrise, so viewing could be compromised.


Additional Information

This Week with The Old Farmer's Almanac

March 9-15, 1998

Full Sap Moon, March 12.

Sugar Snow

With the Full Sap Moon on March 12, we search for signs of the maple sap harvest now under way. Where once we might have seen individual, roofed pails hanging from the tree taps, now we are more likely to see long lines of plastic tubing connecting several maple trees to a single collection point down the hill. While this solution to lugging sap-filled pails down an icy hillside may not be as scenic, still you have to grant its ingenuity. And Nature, still calls the shots, with freezing nights and warmer days, or possibly a late "sugar snow" to prolong the sap harvest.

Great discoveries and improvements invariably involve the cooperation of many minds. . .

- Alexander Graham Bell

Tip of the Week

Maple syrup can be boiled and skimmed, if it begins to harden or develop a film.

Maple Squash Souffle

3 cups cooked winter squash (or 2 packages frozen squash, thawed)

1/4 cup milk

3 tablespoons flour

3 eggs, beaten

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

ground pepper, to taste

3 tablespoons maple syrup

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Combine all ingredients and beat well. Spoon into a buttered 1-quart casserole. Place immediately into a hot oven and bake abuot 35 minutes, until top is golden.

Makes 6 to 8 servings.

The Old Farmer's Weather Proverbs

For every fog in March, there'll be a frost in May.

A northern harr (mist) brings fine weather from afar.

A misty winter brings a pleasant spring. A pleasant winter brings a misty spring.

Pigs see the wind.