Editorial : Things are looking up
Meteorological spring arrived Sunday. We celebrated with rain, sleet, hail, and snow - of the heavy, wet and then the sparklingly light varieties - and no school on the second spring day.
March, April, and May add up to meteorological spring. Their predictable characteristics run to a foot of snow and deep, wind-lashed cold on the one hand, and to weeklong rains, with occasional heart-breaking 60-degree days on the other. Like economics, meteorology and its exalted scholarly paterfamilias, climatology, are dark arts, suggesting mysteries too dense for the lay person to penetrate and leaving open to rude inquiry whether the practicing artists have themselves gotten to the heart of the matter.
A distinguished literary Islander, now dead, frequently declared that the Vineyard spring, define it as you like, began in February. It was a license he enjoyed because of his trade, though he would support his determination with growing signs you might have missed - the splash of yellow witch hazel beside the Brookside barn, for instance. Despite his never-diminished enthusiasm, February has never seemed spring-like, no matter what this wise man claimed.
But, reluctant winter will lose its grip, and spring will triumph, raising our sagging spirits, though the battle will be wearing, and even though our spirits need a great deal of lift. Still, witch hazel, pussy willows, and soon forsythia will lend a hand.
It may have been 10 degrees last night and 21 degrees today, but the average high for the early part of the month ought to be in the low 50s, even higher on the eve of April. Snow and rain will accumulate in significant quantities, but the former will disappear quickly, acquiescing to the ever more irresistible sun. The latter will linger in the cellar.
For its part, the calendar is encouraging. Early Sunday, Daylight Savings Time begins, a happy though mildly bewildering surprise. Perhaps we should call it congressional spring, but let's not go there. Astronomical spring, the vernal equinox, arrives March 20, when the sun is directly over the equator, and day and night are of equal lengths in each hemisphere. The over-long night of our current economic discontent is about to shorten, thanks to the solar system, unlike the government, something we can count on in its variability.
If the deer haven't pruned them, rhododendrons will contribute to the merriment this month, though weeks will pass before the newly formed buds ripen. The same for the hydrangeas and climbing roses. And, don't fret over the hyacinth and daffodils that, on Saturday, were sporting about in the garden by the mud room door but on Monday were frozen in three or four inches of snow. They are veterans of fickle, tempting March. As we must, they will bide their time, knowing in the unknowable depths of their DNA that things are looking up.