Spring is in the Air
Living in Canada has given me a delicate appreciation for the change of seasons that people living on the equator can only dream of with sweaty jealousy. The experience of adapting to significant temperature changes gives my fellow citizens a slight edge with the important attractive personality traits, like flexibility and adaptability.
There has been the occasional news article lately, that indicates the world might be in a little trouble as weather patterns and melting icecaps continue to baffle the meteorologists on channel two. The staunch conservative’s position on this, is to argue the idea of an environmental catastrophe is a conspiracy started by umbrella makers to boost sluggish sales. On the off chance that this season changing will end soon I will choose to celebrate the arrival of Spring today. I feel a little guilty about this as my generation seems to be responsible for this upcoming environmental disaster. Apparently we destroyed the ozone layer with our antiperspirant cans, though in fairness good hygiene with an overwhelming scent of Hai Karate seemed like a fair trade off at the time.
The changing of seasons is a one of the miracles of nature. This should not be confused with the changing of seasoning in restaurants. This phenomena usually occurs with their nightly special. Adding paprika, ground pepper and dill to a meal can miraculously convert a twelve-dollar entrée to a forty-seven dollar delicacy.
I remember on a beautiful April morning years ago, before I became the literary icon I am today, my mother opened the kitchen window and simply declared, “Spring in the Air”. Because I was a young child, who hadn’t yet figured out the difference between nouns and verbs, I immediately sprang in the air to please my mother’s request. Landing awkwardly, I sprained my ankle and was forced to consume a tablespoon of Cod Liver Oil as mother applied a homemade mustard poultice using mustard power, flour, oregano and icing sugar to soothe my ankle. I always craved hotdogs after this procedure.
Another phrase that confused me as a child, was “spring has sprung”. It seemed unfair that we never said “fall has fallen” to announce the beginning of Autumn. (What proceeds is what my critics sarcastically call a pointless tangent) Spring sprung was just too hard to comprehend as the words seemed so similar. I suspect Knights working nights caused similar confusion to the medieval payroll accountants as they calculated the overtime pay. Mourning morning is something we all do when the alarm rings, but we never say it. And don’t get me started on those dazed days during two forgettable months during grade 11. But I guess spring has sprung so deal with it. End of tangent!
There is something quite inspiring about the magical change from Winter to Spring. Sadly, many are so dedicated to their work, they hardly notice when the season of rebirth and rejuvenation occurs. For those workaholics, I will share a few clues to help you in your transition. You will notice you start wearing less long sleeve shirts, scarves and mittens. You might notice the snow is melting away. If you tune into your cable sports networks, you will see preseason baseball being played, while hockey and basketball have only four months of playoffs left.
Responsible citizens search for their gardening tools to prepare for the painful exercise of ensuring the front lawn has curb appeal. Certain families see the beginning of spring as a good time to change the sheets on all the beds in the house. You may even remove that vinyl cover from your BBQ to remind your children that dad knows how to cook. Another subtle clue that spring is in the air, is you might notice that your children haven’t been to school for a week, because their teachers were so fed up with your little darlings that they declared a week of holidays to honour the new season and cleverly called it “Spring Break”.
Let’s get historical for a moment. An ancient marker from the original Gregorian Calendar for the transition from winter to spring is the celebration of the Vernal Equinox. Your friends who are part of some witches coven, or secretly practice pagan rituals in their house with the curtains drawn, see this as the most important day of the year. Adding eye of newt and batwings to a boiling cauldron, is a common way to recognize this seasonal change. For this secret society, this is considered even a bigger day than Black Friday, unless Apple releases a new Iphone.
Thousands of years of rituals driven by mythology and horoscopes celebrated the beginning of spring with great zest as our ancient relatives waited for the invention of the Xbox. This less scientific society recognized better days were ahead. This Vernal Equinox was a day when the amount of sunlight begins to equal the amount of night. Vernal is an old latin word meaning spring, and equinox indicated the time when the sun crosses the plane of the earth’s equator, making night and day of approximately equal length all over the earth.
It only happens twice a year, March 22 and September 23. If you are striving to achieve perfect balance in your life, these are the two days where you might have a fighting chance. Many of our current celebrations are based on this vernallity. (Vernallity is not a word, but if it was, that is how I would have ended the last sentence.)
Equionx should not be mistaken for solstice, but this is a common mistake made by those who refuse to read my blogs. Like an equinox, a solstice will occur twice a year, when the sun reaches its highest or lowest point in the sky at noon. This determines the longest and shortest days of the year. Advanced societies force you to change your clocks during this time. Advanced societies also discourage old pagan traditions because cooking indoors with a burning cauldron is considered a fire hazard. Newts were also placed on the endangered species list to further discourage this barbaric practice.
Religions also got into the act to help the faithful remember when to put their snow shoes in the crawl space.
The Jewish Passover usually falls on the first full moon after the northern hemisphere vernal equinox, although occasionally (currently three times every 19 years) it will occur on the second full moon.
The Christian churches calculate Easter as the first Sunday after the first full moon on or after the March equinox. The official church definition for the equinox is March 21. The Eastern orthodox churches use the older Julian calendar while the western churches use the Gregorian calendar. The western full moons currently fall four, five or 34 days before the eastern ones. The result is that the two Easters generally fall on different days but they sometimes coincide. The earliest possible Easter date in any year is March 22 on each calendar. The latest possible Easter date in any year is April 25. I must take a deep breath, as I think I just learned something.
This information above explains why you had to go to the store and buy chocolate bunnies a little earlier this year. There are countless examples where different religions use the vernal equinox to plan their many traditions. Lets just assume that if you practice any form of faith, a full moon early in the year is going to disrupt your shopping plans.
Spring is in the air. It is time for rebirth, rejuvenation and rewallpapering the hall closet. Rejoice my friends, and remember April showers bring May flowers, but they also bring May weeds. This must explain the popularity of Condo living these days.
Cue the Blong: Last week’s song was a bit of a downer, I hope this one is a little more upbeat.