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Spring confusion

Published March 26. 2011 09:03AM

Spring. Out of the four seasons, she is the ditz of the bunch.

Spring is capricious, flirty and maybe just a wee bit confused.

The confusion might start with not knowing when her actual birthday is.

Ever since I can remember, the first day of Spring was March 21.

Now it's March 20.

My research says that the first day of spring is when there is the spring equinox, which happens at a specific moment in time when there is a point on the Earth's equator where the center of the sun can be observed to be vertically overhead, when there are equally 12 hours of day and 12 hours of night. This year that happened on March 20 at 11:21 p.m. (Spring isn't the only ditz. I'm not quite sure I get the 11:21 p.m. thing...)

But then on March 1, I heard Joe Snedeker on WNEP say it was the first day of Spring.

So not only is poor Spring confused, so am I!

More research shows that the Societas Meteorologica Palatina, (the Mannheim Meterological Society) was founded in 1780, the first company to conduct, organize and make worldwide weather observations and calculate climates and make weather maps. It defined a season as having three months and it is the definition that meteorologists have used ever since. Summer is June, July and August. Fall is September, October, November. Winter is December, January and February. Spring is March, April and May. Each season begins the first of the month of that season. Thus, according to the Societas Meteorologica Palatina, the first day of Spring is March 1.

March 1, March 20, March 21. Whatever.

Spring doesn't look at calendar dates or meteorologist definitions. She's a free-spirited kind of gal and her friends show up willy-nilly to frolic with her.

Robins started arriving three weeks ago to play.

Flowers began peeping up out of the sleeping ground about the same time to help her decorate her dress.

Teenagers gad about wearing shorts and flip flops.

Rita's Italian Ice invited everyone in the West End to opening day on March 4 for a first-of-the-season taste.

All signs that Spring is dancing all around us.

This week, Winter threw a couple of temper tantrums in the form of snow because he's reluctant to leave. He even hurled in some snow thunder and lightning!

But Spring just teases him as she cajoles her daddy, the Sun, to warm the earth so the snow doesn't stay too long.

Spring is also a temptress.

She stocks the stores with all her latest fashions with bright cheery designs and fabrics. She knows just what colors will entice the females of the species.

She sneaks a couple of warm days in March to tantalize us and we find all kinds of reasons to be outdoors, so grateful after what seems like an endless Winter. We revel in the warmth of her sunshine, praying the mild weather will last until June ushers in Summer.

Spring uses her cousin Wind to blow dry her earthy mantle.

Scientifically speaking, wind is caused by changes in temperature in the atmosphere and on the ground. Warmer air expands and rises in the atmosphere, then cooler air rushes in to replace the warmer air. "March winds" are cyclical winds that come with Spring and warmer temperatures. A famous old saying about March winds is, "If March comes in like a lion, it'll go out like a lamb. If it comes in like a lamb, it'll go out like a lion." Either way, the saying goes, strong winds will come sometimes in March. Spring thinks it's a perfect time to fly a kite.

Gardeners are impatient to begin turning over the earth and plant those first of the early crops like peas, onions, radishes, lettuce, spinach, potatoes and carrots.

As I grow older, I yearn for the first signs of Spring to come earlier and earlier. I glory in her warm sunny days. I greet her bright sprigs of yellow and purple crocuses in my flower beds with a joyous "Hello Spring!" when I see them.

With the coming of Spring, I often think of my grandmother. After my grandfather passed away and when she reached the age of 90, she often said she was ready to "go home." But during the long cold days and nights of Winter, she'd say, "If only I can see spring." She passed away on a beautiful spring day in May at the age of 98, content to "go home," having seen one last Spring.

Spring promises new life and rebirth. She restores our faith that better things are coming. We feel revitalized, ready to tackle each day with hope and renewed vigor.

With the snow, ice and sleet that pelted us this last week, it would be easy to think that Spring is a little confused.

But I don't think so. I think Spring is, well, just being Spring. You got to admit, she's never boring. She's the life of the seasonal party. And if you're like me, I'm so glad she invited me.

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