Tuesday, March 01, 2011

The first of March (or, my annual optimistic spring-is-almost-here post)

The first day of March should be considered a holiday. I’m talking a full blown, no holds barred celebration complete with music, dancing, bonfires, and revelry!

Why, you may ask, especially if you live a lot closer to the equator than I do. Why? The official explanation is that the first of March is considered to be the first day of “meteorological spring”. That is, the typical coldest 90 days during the calendar year, December 1-February 28, are behind us.

In my mind, winter officially loses its death grip when the calendar page turns over. Yes, we may still have some nights of subzero temperatures, and you can expect a snowstorm or two. But when March arrives, whether as a lion or a lamb, the weather is guaranteed to get warmer. Sooner rather than later. Snow will melt on a sunny day and freeze with a solid crust at night. Patches of open ground will be revealed. The cool sweet smell of damp earth will permeate the air at twilight.

The warmth of the sun and the motion of flowing water will work together to break through the fragile ice on the Kettle River. The newly opened patches of water will attract a pair of trumpeter swans or Canada geese or hooded mergansers. Kestrels and red winged blackbirds will appear over every marsh and field as the tawny grasses emerge from their winter snow cover.

And I will emerge once again from what always seems like the long sleep of winter. I will plant seeds, which is after all one of the most optimistic acts in the world. I will bask in the warmth of a sunny afternoon at the south facing window by the wood stove, and not know which is warming me more. In my hands will be a musical instrument playing tunes that seem just a bit more lively than I played a month ago.

Then I will go outside, running, laughing, filling my lungs with cool air at sunset. And so it begins again, as it always does.


Caroline said...

I'm with you! I am going to find some daffodils for my desk at school and asparagus for dinner and go with "Meteorolgical Spring".
Nice post.

robin andrea said...

I like the concept of "meteorological spring," those long 90 days of cold temperatures and little light are behind us. I always revel in the halfway point between solstice and equinox as the beginning. It's a great comfort when we turn the page on February.

webb said...

You forgot to mention that meteorological spring also celebrates the end of the longest month of the year - February, the Dark! It's a cousin of Darth Vader.

Sue said...

I love this post!

Floridacracker said...

Feels that way even here!

Rabbi Gershom said...

Actually, we Jews already have something like that - it's called Purim ("The Feast of Esther") and it comes on the 14th of the Hebrew month of Adar, which falls in either Feb or March depending on the Jewish lunar calendar. Purim is celebrated exactly as you suggest - with revelry, drinking, jesting, costumes, and in some places, bonfires. (Google "Purim" --there's lots about it on the net.)

Mardi Gras is probably a carryover from Purim. Mardi Gras comes 40 days before Easter, and Purim comes a month before Passover. The dates don't always match on the secular calendar, but the connection is there.

In the Middle Ages, the Feast of Fools or "Twelfth Night" came in January. I think just about every northern culture has had some sort of winter silliness festival to chase away the winter blues.

BTW, Deb, it was nice finally meeting you F2F. Thanks for coming up and introducing youself in the grocery yesterday. Maybe when the weather gets warmer, you can stop over for coffee with me and my wife (if you don't mind a very messy house full of cat hair!)

Deb said...

Rabbi- I appreciate the knowledge you bring with your comments! It was great to meet you too, and I would love to stop over for coffee some time. I don't mind a bit of cat hair; I have four indoor cats myself. :)

Lausten North said...

Yea! for mentioning any kind of Spring that doesn't depend on the abstract ideas of equinox or solstice. They don't relate to the weather. I'll even go as far back as Ground Hog's day, the middle point between the winter solstice and spring equinox to start thinking Spring.