Today is the vernal equinox, which marks the official arrival of spring. Pay no attention to the cold weather outside, or the snow that is supposed to fall along the east coast, and think instead of the tulips and daffodils to come.
The vernal equinox, technically speaking, is one of two days each year when the sun rises directly in the east and the period of light and the period of dark during the day are nearly identical. This year, for complicated reasons having to do with the fact that it’s a leap year and the adjustment to the calendar made by Pope Gregory XIII more than 500 years ago, the vernal equinox arrives at the earliest time since 1896. After today, the daily periods of sunshine will grow longer until we reach the summer solstice — the longest day of the year — on June 21. Daylight will continue to be longer than darkness until the other equinox, the autumnal equinox, comes in September. It’s less celebrated than the vernal equinox because, like the Stark Clan on Game of Thrones, it tells us that winter is coming.
Today, though, is a day of equilibrium, where the dark and the light and the positive and the negative balance out. It’s a day to follow a middle course. Today is a day to treat all people in an even-handed way, to split a cookie with a friend even-Steven, and to maintain an even strain.
This morning we “sprung ahead,” and the temperature actually is above 32 degrees right now. That’s good enough for me: I’m calling it spring.
I don’t care that spring doesn’t officially arrive for two weeks. Equinoxes, vernal or autumnal, are irrelevant at this point. We’re talking basic mental health and crucial attitudinal adjustments. The sunshine today and promise of warmer temperatures this week, which might actually touch the 60s (!) — are good enough for me. In my book, it’s spring.
That’s means it’s time to break out the cleaning supplies and do a little spring cleaning. In our case, that means continuing to attack the boxes and the miscellaneous items that crowd the shelves, put things away into closets and cabinets, and give everything a good wipe down and dusting.
Cleaning isn’t the most exciting activity in the world, but when you call it spring cleaning and hope — fervently, prayerfully, sincerely, with every fiber in your being — that it means a long, awful winter might finally be over, it’s not too bad.
I feel like I should be one of the Starks of Winterfell, wrapped snugly in smelly furs, intoning grimly that “winter is coming” and warning of the perils of the White Walkers. This year in Columbus, winter has come . . . and stayed, and stayed, and stayed. It’s the Winter Without End. All we’re missing are a few direwolves and an 800-foot-high wall in the backyard.
Recently one of my friends mentioned that he had a picture on his cell phone of his kids playing in the snow that fell in October. Winter started about then, and it’s still here!
If I had the money, I’d buy every empty condo property in south Florida I could find. After this brutal midwestern winter, I think we’re going to see a fresh exodus of snowbirds who’ve had it up to here with snow and cold and ice and will pay through their frostbitten noses for a chance to feel the sun’s warmth.