The TV weather guy noted that March 1 was the first day of “meteorological spring.”
I learned this is a method of organizing the year by grouping the four seasons based on similar temperatures. This seems like a very logical way for weather forecasters to reckon when the seasons begin and end.
“Astronomical spring” is another way scientists observe the change from winter to spring. This system is based on the position of the Earth in relation to the sun. When the Earth’s position and tilt results in the sun shining directly on the equator, it is spring. This year astronomical spring begins in Indiana at 6:45 p.m. on March 20.
As I pondered these two scientific ways of thinking about the beginning of spring, I considered other ways to determine when the season has arrived. For some reason, I was reminded of the Wallace Stevens poem “13 Ways of Looking at a Blackbird.” This sometimes puzzling, haiku-like poem consists of 13 stanzas, each of which looks at a blackbird in a different way. “Are there 13 ways of looking at spring,” I wondered.
I know as a former school teacher as well as a former kid that spring break marks a pretty good starting point for the season. Many students feel like school is all but over for the year after their return from vacation. For teachers, spring break also means the beginning of the end of the year with all that entails: records, tests, finals, materials collected and packed away until next year.
Easter, the most important event in the Christian calendar, comes at the beginning of spring as does the Jewish festival of Passover. Hindus, Sikhs and other religions also celebrate new life and liberation among the budding trees and greening grass of the awakening Earth.
Many people know that spring begins with the annual accumulation of scattered receipts, pay stubs and government forms so that we can render unto Caesar. It can be a particularly busy season if you are a taxpayer, tax preparer or an IRS worker.
For those of us who garden and spend our impatient winters looking through seed catalogs, spring comes with the newly arrived daffodils and crocus. We usually go to the garden too early because we can’t wait to get our hands dirty. Spring means the morel mushroom hunt can begin.
Spring begins when the sun comes earlier and stays later. Spring starts when we shift our time and “spring forward” to allow for even more evening light. It begins when the air is warm enough to sit outside and enjoy the day. Bicycles come out of the garage, barbecues are cleaned and readied. Lawnmowers appear.
Golfers hear an inner voice that whispers, “Spring is here” as they load the clubs and head for the links. Baseball fans know that spring means spring training which means hope has come alive yet again, which means this could be the Cubs’ year.
For allergy sufferers, spring is a mixed blessing. Spring begins when our eyes get red, and we sniffle through the pollen. For most of us it is a temporary discomfort that is tempered by the beauty of the season.
It is also somewhat of a mixed blessing for those of us with spouses who decide that a good project would be to do a deep spring cleaning, which I suppose is also a temporary discomfort tempered by the beauty of the season.
It is always spring, they say, for people in love. Spring begins when you look into each other’s eyes for what seems like the first time. What better season of the year for awakening romance? Why do you think they call it “spring fever”?
Blackbirds of the red-winged variety have been here all season, but many other birds are making their spring return from their winter homes. I’m not sure what method birds use to determine when the season arrives, but I saw a robin the other day, and I am going to trust that spring is here.