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George Little: define “normal” spring

March 23, 2012 at 11:07 AM

The State Journal-Register

According to the Old Farmer’s Almanac, spring is here. The Almanac says the vernal equinox occurred Tuesday.

No matter what the weather, we are now meteorologically free of winter. At the vernal equinox, the sun rises and sets true east and west. It will stay close to those compass points for the next two or three days.

Many people believe that, because the sun is equidistant from the North and South Poles at the vernal equinox, it creates a unique gravitational force. This force allows even the rankest amateur to stand a raw egg on end on the day of the equinox.

It is true that many people can balance a raw egg that day. It is also true they could do the same thing on the Fourth of July, Labor Day or Christmas is they were inclined to try.

The equinox has nothing to do with balancing eggs. If it did, why stop at eggs? We should be able to balance pocketknives, pick axes, and petunias. Maybe the gravitational phenomena would even allow me to balance my checkbook.

Mother Nature’s sure signs of spring will soon reveal themselves. Goldfinches will soon be brilliant yellow again. Many of them have already made the transition from their dull olive-green winter plumage.

Female bluebirds are on the way back from their winter vacations. Some males have been here for a week or two staking out their accommodations. If you haven’t cleaned out your bluebird houses, do it now. Bluebirds will come back to the same houses year after year. If the maid hasn’t tidied things up since last year, they won’t stay.

Mild-mannered male robins have become aggressive, running other males away from nesting areas with the best worm potential. Kit foxes will start coming out of the dens to sun themselves on bright afternoons, and tom turkeys are strutting and fanning a little, tuning up for their spring mating ritual.

And, with the already unseasonably warm weather, spring fever has reached epidemic proportions in many workplaces and on most college campuses.

What kind of spring will it be? Weather-wise, thus far, it’s anything but ordinary. Your guess is as good as mine.

According to, spring 2012 will be slightly warmer and wetter than normal. The Old Farmer’s
Almanac says it will be cool and dry. Folklore says that, because New Years Day was on Sunday in 2012, there would be a mild winter. Spring will be windy and the summer hot and dry. So far, folklore is batting 1.000.

The late Thalassa Crusso hosted a popular PBS gardening show. She said, “Every year … I hear complaints about spring. It is either late or unusually cold, abnormally dry, or fantastically wet. No one is ever willing to admit that there is no such thing as a normal spring.”

However the spring of 2012 turns out, normal or not, we’re done with winter, and that is cause for celebration.

Contact George Little at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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