Spring is here. Or is it?

One of winter’s unique pleasures is waking up to discover freshly fallen snow. I still feel the rush of wonder as I open the curtains to witness tumbling tufts of cotton candy falling from an opaque sky. Especially the kind of snow that’s perfect for catching on your tongue: fat flakes that you can make a meal of.

That’s exactly how the last day of February dawned this year: snowy and picturesque. Winter’s last gasp. Most people were grumbling at the forecast. It’s beginning to feel too late in the season for snow. Especially since winter has heretofore made little effort to assert itself. Naysayers make a valid point. However, since it fell on February 28th, this batch of snow squeaked in under the wire.

outside my window

Today is March 1st. Or, as the folks in the weather biz like to call it, the start of meteorological spring. Pennsylvania-dwelling rodents be damned, it’s de facto spring now, folks. It may seem like an abuse of power, but meteorologists are uniquely positioned to bend the rules about the seasons. When you think about it, can we really blame them?

If they stick to the calendar of celestial events like good little druids, then spring doesn’t officially arrive until the vernal equinox on March 20th. Well, that’s not going to work. Everyone knows that snakes don’t come out in the winter. How are we supposed to reenact St. Patrick’s epic miracle of driving the snakes out of Ireland if we can’t find them? What are we supposed to do with all that green beer and all of those bad decisions waiting to be made? That’s a rhetorical question. I’m from Boston, we know exactly what to do with beer of any color and bad decisions are responsible for most of us being here.

St. Patrick giving the snakes some side eye

If we have to wait until June 20th, the long Memorial Day weekend at the end of May can’t be billed as the kickoff to summer. Meteorologists would be forced to wait until summer’s true eve of June 20th to celebrate. Well, that’s wicked inconvenient. The 20th is going to move through the week from year to year, often landing on a weekday. And it won’t count as a day off. Plus, in these parts, people aren’t going to brave 50° F water unless they can, in good conscience, say that it’s at least summer. We’d be leaving all those delusional optimistic souls in the shallows assuring us that “the water isn’t cold; you’ll get used to it” in the lurch. Setting aside the danger of hypothermia, summer feels pretty short, leaving us inclined to squeeze in every beach day we can. To paraphrase Massachusetts poet James Russell Lowell, what is so rare as a few weeks in June? Welp, if you don’t push them into summer, then they are rare spring days freezing on the sand at Salisbury Beach.

data from surf-forecast.com making the point for me

Considering the aforementioned perks we gain, I can’t really blame the weather folks for their temporal shenanigans. It’s not just spring and summer that benefit from shifting the seasons ahead by a few weeks. Fall, as most of us in the US call autumn, and winter benefit equally. Thanks to meteorologists, pumpkin spice lunatics enthusiasts can tell the rest of us to shut up as they sip their lattes on September 1st. And how is anyone supposed to get their halls adequately decked for Christmas if we have to wait until winter officially starts with the solstice on December 21st? It’s just too tight a deadline. It wouldn’t stand.

In spite of yesterday’s snow, March came in this morning like a lamb. I watched the snow disappear in the bright sunshine as the temperature rose well above freezing. Melted snow from the roof coursed down the drainpipes in a constant torrent. Cardinals, bluebirds, and blue jays flitted around the bird feeder in vibrant, spring plumage. The birds are blissfully unaware of what calendar we use to mark the seasons. They mastered seasonal logistics long before there were meteorologists. The spring migration has begun. Their journeys across oceans and continents are well underway. Maybe we humans should just leave it to the experts.

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