At this writing, there appears to be a strong anxiety by most everyone in our valley anticipating the return of the warmth of spring. Can we really blame Punxsutawney Phil, even though he blew it badly?
We are constantly looking for the many signs of the season we would gladly welcome with open arms.
The robins have arrived with full gusto, although shivering with displeasure.
The tulips and daffodils and even garlic have in fact sprouted somewhat.
Birds are chirping a different tune, whatever that tune might mean. Down through history, unstable weather occurs quite often in spring, including heavy frosts, lots of rain, floods and even snow and its melting, which we know all about.
Now the smart people tell me that in spring, the axis of the earth is increasing its tilt, which is relative to the sun, and the length of daylight rapidly increases for the relevant hemisphere. The hemisphere itself begins to warm up causing new plant growth to spring forth, thus giving the season its name - spring.
The word "equinox" seems to come in play also, and it does not mean your favorite Chevrolet. Equinox occurs two times during the year when the sun crosses the celestial equator and when the lengths of day and night are approximately the same: the vernal or spring equinox and the autumnal equinox when the sun spends an equal amount of time on both.
There are many traditions of spring in the U.S.A., starting with Feb. 2. This is called Candlemas, but we call it Groundhog Day, where this year, our dear buddy Phil must have been on a binge the night before, as his prediction was a disaster. He did not see his shadow! So we thought an early spring was coming.
Sorry, Phil. Everyone can make a mistake - even the famed groundhog!
It seems that our spring season can also be regarded as beginning on the day after Presidents Day (the Tuesday after the third Monday in February) and ending on the Friday before Memorial Day weekend (the Friday before the last Monday in May).
We have to remember that spring is not really determined by calendar dates. It really relates to many other indicators in nature. Those include the blossoming of many plant and tree species, and the activities of animals, and the temperature of the soil. That's when we really know it is spring.
Spring should really be seen as a time of growth and new life which includes both plants and animals being born.
It is the time of year when the holiday of Easter appears, both religious and secular. Farmers and home gardeners plant their seeds and plants, both vegetables and flowers, and hope for a great growing season with plenty of rain and sunshine.
Anglers are quite aware when the fish start biting and harvest their catches in early spring. The baseball and softball seasons begin, from Little League to Major Leagues, from our valley to Cleveland and Pittsburgh.
Did I forget to mention spring breaks? We are wowed to see spring burst open with top-down weather, our beautiful Mill Creek Park, and many other local park settings, the return of active animal and bird life, and just warmer weather. We cannot forget fertilizing and mowing the lawn. After all, after a yucky winter, we yearn for much warmer weather and feel-good temperatures and to be outdoors.
It is so good to get that fresh breath of air as sort of a resting period before we blossom into the season of summer, which is the ultimate.
By the time this piece is published, perhaps much warmer weather will be at hand. If not, sorry, Phil, you blew it bad!