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Weather Almanac for March 1998
The Vernal Equinox
The Vernal Equinox. The First Day of Spring to those of us in the Northern Hemisphere. The Autumnal Equinox, the First Day of Autumn in the Southern. Today is one of the two days of the year when the Sun is overhead at the Equator, and all inhabitants of Planet Earth share a day with equal day and night.
To visitors from southern latitudes and tropical regions, forgive the boreal-centric nature of my emotions. You see, I am a solar man and am filled with joy that day length will again exceed twelve hours for the next half year.
The Spring season provides the transition time from winter to summer; however, its "official" start date is by no means reflected in the appropriate changes in weather and climate. The operative word is transition, and the change is rarely a smooth one. In fact, the past two weeks have seen as much wintry weather in the Great Lakes region as the past two months. And here on Vancouver Island, the blossoms are beginning to fall from the cherry trees, and mild weather has been entrenched for weeks.
In reality of course, Spring's beginning varies from place to place and year to year, and even from person to person as to what standard is used to mark the beginning. For some it is the first robin, or the first blossom, or the first pitch or first picnic, or first time out on the lake or in the field.
However we choose to define Spring, most cultures have celebrated winter's end as a time for rebirth and renewal. The ancient Greek celebrated Spring with the Festival of Flowers in honour of Dionysus. The Romans participated in a number of Spring festivals including Bacchanalia. Christianity celebrates the season with the resurrection and rebirth of Jesus after a symbolic period of denial, Lent.
The season's English name has deep roots -- springtime first appeared in texts around 1398. The name alludes to the season as a time when the world springs back into action after winter's rest and new life springs from earth, water and womb. Sometime later spring of the leaf was used to refer to the season, an eventually the name was shortened to Spring.
Spring -- to everything there is a season: To renewal and procreation. To life force and fertility. To dancing and feasting. To plowing and sowing. To nest-building and mating rituals. To emergence and blooming. To warm winds and refreshing rains.
Happy Springtime to All!
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