Happy spring! Before you insist spring doesn’t start officially for another two weeks, astronomical spring (starting on the equinox) isn’t the only game in town. The weather folk go by three-month chunks, with spring being March, April, and May. This results in “winters” and “summers” that more closely correspond to the coldest and hottest quarters of the year, and it makes year-to-year comparisons easier because the dates are always the same.
Changes of the seasons exist in nature, at least in the temperate zone. Defining them by calendar date is a human convenience. Is the compulsion to specify turning points universal or specific to our culture? Just as people don’t suddenly reach the maturity to drive, vote, or drink on a particular birthday, nature’s spring doesn’t arrive on one predictable date each year.
We know this intuitively. We speak of a long winter or an early fall. We know that summers in North Carolina last longer than summers in Alaska. Even the division of the year into quarters is arbitrary. My life holds a distinct harvest/hay-fever season from mid-August to mid-October.
I’m a late convert to the concept of meteorological seasons. They’re a good fit for the novel I’m writing. They match the school calendar of my childhood. And they allow me in early March to bid you a joyful spring.
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I'm a historian who writes novels and literary nonfiction. My home base is Madison, Wisconsin.