March and the Shepherd: An Italian folktale
Landscape 'Shepherd's Rest' by George Turner (April 1841 – 29 Mar 1910)
"Good day to you," March said. "And where are you taking your sheep today?"
"I am taking them to the mountain, where the grass is already green and thick."
"Buona fortuna, Shepherd," March sang, but to himself March was saying, "Today I will play with the shepherd, just a little bit. This will be fun!"
All day it rained on the mountain, like a small flood. Stones tumbled down the mountain in the water and the trees bent in the wind. But the shepherd, who could see that March was up to mishief, took his sheep to the bottom lands instead of the mountains that day and stayed dry and safe.
As the shepherd headed home with his sheep, there was March waiting for him.
"Buona sera, Shepherd! Good evening! Did you have a nice day on the mountain?"
"It was a good day," said Shepherd. "I changed my mind and took my sheep to the river bottoms to graze today. What a lovely, sunny day we had!"
"Well, that was nice for you." March was not pleased that he had failed to fool the shepherd, but of course he hid his disappointment. "Will you return to the river bottom tomorrow?"
"I believe I will," said the shepherd. "It was perfect there today. And I could see it was raining hard up on the mountain."
"That sounds like a good plan," March said. "Ciao! Goodbye!" He walked away.
What do you thin the shepherd did? Of course! He went up on the mountain!
March brought even worse weather to the river bottoms this day than he had to the mountains. The winds blew with a gale force and even hail rained down from the skies.
And that evening March was waiting for the shepherd again.
"Buona sera, Shepherd. Good evening! How was the weather in the river bottoms today? To you liking, I hope?
"Perfect, just perfect!We went up on the mountain and the sky was blue all day. What a lovely day it was!"
March tried to look pleased, but he was pretty angry to have been fooled again!
"Well. And tomorrow? Where will you go tomorrow?"
"We may stay here on the river tomorrow, March. I hear it is supposed to rain in the mountains tomorrow."
All month March tried to catch the shepherd in a storm, wind or rain. But all month the shepherd continued to trick March. Finally it was the last day of the month.
"Well, shepherd, how are you and your sheep today?"
"I am very well, and my sheep are getting fat from all the good grazing this month. You have been kind to us, March, bringing only good weather our way."
March frowned but he said, "That is good news!" So tomorrow you have nothing to fear for I shall be gone. Where will you be grazing your sheep tomorrow/"
Now the shepherd was no longer worried about tricking March for the month, he thought, was over.
"I will take them to the river bottoms again, for the grass has grown so fast it is up their bellies. It will be a fine day."
"Well, buona fortuna! Good luck, Shepherd!"
What did March do then? He ran straight to his cousin April.
"I need an extra day, April. Please, would you let me have one more day? There is this wily shepherd I really want to trick."
"All right," April said reluctantly. "Just one, though. That's all!"
The shepherd knew nothing of this conversation. Expecting the soft breath of April, he took his flock to the river bottom to graze. All day the wind howled and icy pellets peppered down from the skies. When he returned home, the shepherd stood by his fire, trying to get dry and warm. He felt chilled right to his bones.
Suddenly he heard a knock at the door. To his surprise, when he opened the door, there stood March.
"Hello March. I am surprised to see you. I thought you had left for the year."
"Really? I am still here, as you can see. How was your day with the sheep?"
"It was terrible! It was so cold and the rain was like ice pellets. All day the wind blew that ice into my skin until now I feel like I am frozen through and through."
"Ah!" said March. "And now I will say good-bye. Buona notte, Shepherd. Good night."
Satisfied at last, March left. And that is why March has thirty-one days, instead of thirty.