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After Bush the Smarter lost the election to Clinton, he became officially a bad joke to the GOP. The CPAC that year jeered his name out loud and he was the subject to ridicule.

As I read this right after his son stole the election for Gore, I wished him an even more pathetic memorialization by his own. So, when I saw this title

Bush a four-letter word at CPAC

I certainly celebrated my wish coming true so precisely.

I savored several details:

if there’s one thing those attending the annual Conservative Political Action Conference this week agree on, it is this: They don’t want another George W. Bush.

There’s no nostalgia for the past eight years, no tributes to Bush and no sessions dedicated to exploring his presidency.

Indeed, for a president who publicly embraced conservative principles, there is little evidence that the movement returns the sentiment.

But while enjoying morsels like this one, I was troubled by my second time agreement with New Gingrich (the first time was over Asimov’s Foundation Trilogy). Someone on that side notce the Jr.Jr reality – even if they zoom on all the wrong things:

Conservative icon Newt Gingrich, the former House Speaker, railed against the “Bush-Obama continuity in economic policy” and the “Bush-Obama big spending program” in a speech Friday.

“We had big spending under Bush and now we have big spending under Obama,” Gingrich said. “And so now we have two failures.

What he said.

Back in the old country, Romania that is, March 1st was considered the 1st Day of spring (astronomy be damned) and celebrated by a beautiful tradition coming to us down from the Romans.

Martisor – “little March” is a thread – red and white twist with some sort of a charm hanging on it

Women of all ages receive this from men of all ages or other women (friends) as well on March 1st and wear them pinned to their collar for about 9 days.

In my home today, even my girl-dog Boongo got one

The history and meaning of all this is lost in time – so everyone picks the symbolism that suits them.

Some prefer love and purity for the two colors, I prefer the more obvious winter and spring and the interesting “war and peace”

The 9 days are associated with a legend of Baba Dochia – a meteorological morality tale.

The old Dochia is an ancient agrarian deity, who dies on March 1st and revives on March 9th (the spring equinox in the old folk calendar and the new agrarian year). Dochia reminds of the great goddess Terra Mater and she can be associated with Diana and Iuno from Romans and with Hera and Artemis from the Greeks.

The legend has it that the old Dochia was an evil mother-in-law, who in the first day of March sent her daughter-in-law in the mountains, in search of strawberries. On the road, the girl met an old man (maybe God), who gave her a bunch of strawberries. Seeing the fruits, the old Dochia believed that the spring had come. She put her nine coats (twelve in the Moldavian and Bucovina version), took her sheep and went in the mountains. The warm weather made her take off her coats, one by one. But the frost and the rain came next and the old woman and her sheep turned into ice, which later became rock. The legend has it that this is how Babele (the Old Women) from Bucegi Mountains were formed.

The version I knew had a mother looking for her eloping daughter – and I always felt sorry for her, even before becoming a mother myself. But the point of the story is:

Beginning of March is treacherous. Whether in pursuit of your daughter or daughter in law, don’t throw away those 9 coats, no matter how tempting it may be.

Back to the Martisor. Wearing it the 9 days doesn’t end the tradition. Whatever you do with the charms, hold on to the thread – all the power is in there. Keep looking every day until you find a tree in bloom, and when that happen, make a wish and tie the thread to it

Your wish will come true. Or not – but you spent days, weeks of March looking for the first bloom – and that’s something too.

On more thing: Growing up with the Martisor tradition made for some interesting March 1sts at school. I suppose Valentine’s Day would come somewhat close to explaining it. Seeing this cartoon made me laugh out loud:

My friends and I also had a friendly competition counting the Martisors we got. I won some, lost some – but in interest of disclosure, we all got lots and lots of Martisors.

One more note: There is absolutely no place in US to find the Martisor threads. But living in new York has its advantages: all good bakeries tie their packages in red and white thread. All I have to do is eat well through the year and save the threads.

Happy Martisor!

Not Your Sweetie

March 2009