That’s it, I’m going with spring has sprung

Out on a Limb with Alistair Taylor

Happy spring everybody.

What? It’s not spring you say? Ha! That’s what I said, too, when someone told me that there is an alternative way to determine spring.

Heresy, you say! Yes I did too, until an astute denizen of the newsroom got on the Internet to back up his claim that there are some people who consider March 1 as the first day of spring.

While he pounded his computer keys in search of the truth, I slapped my palms hard against my ears and shouted “Woo! Woo! Bleeeeeaaaah…wah, wah, wah, wah!” so I wouldn’t have to listen to this apostasy.

Okay, it didn’t quite go downlike that. But it was a surprise to learn about “meteorological spring.” What’s more, when I heard the reason for it, I actually thought, “That’s not a bad idea.”

But then, that’s how they get you.

Logic. Sense. All manner of evil techniques are employed these days to force change.

“Spring falls on the equinox,” I lamented while collapsing into a puddle of despair as the world as I know it crumbles around me.

Oh, right, sorry, I had abandoned that ludicrous anecdote three paragraphs back.

But I was surprised to learn that meteorologists decided sometime around the 1950’s that there was an easier way to reckon the seasons than following the astronomical model which determines that the seasons change on the equinoxes and the solstices. The next equinox (meaning equal day and night, thus every day going forward from then on is increasingly longer than the night) is 9:30 p.m., March 19, thus the first day of spring is Sunday, March 20.

Well, not if you’re  a meteorologist. Meteorologists decided that the seasons should be based on the calendar.

Under the astronomical system, the equinox and the solstices occur on varying dates sometime in the third week of March, June, September and December. “Sometime in the third week” is a remarkably unscientific determinant. But that’s the way it is with the heavenly bodies. Planets wobble, stars have elliptical orbits – listen to me trying to sound like I know what I’m talking about. I know it’s spring when my calendar says, “First day of spring.”

But now, I can go with the meteorological season because 60 years ago a bunch of weather persons decided that it made more sense to just divide the seasons up based on the calendar. Four seasons divided into 12 months means three months per season.

Spring begins March 1 and runs until June 1. Sept. 1 ends summer and begins fall. Dec. 1 is winter. Makes sense plus it’s the way we think about it anyway, right? To me fall begins when school goes back, usually after Labour Day. To me that’s fall. Spring is kind of iffy because the weather can break early or it can linger into April. Especially around here. And that’s another reason to use the meteorological spring. The traditional seasons are based on a temperate, Euro-centric view of climate. Out here on the North American northwest coast, our seasons are different. We have the wet season and the less-wet season. Ba-dum!

I jest but really we have three, maybe even just two seasons. Around March we have reason to expect the wind and rain – and occasional wet snow – of “winter” to end (extended fall compared to other parts of the country). Temperatures start climbing up. Spring arrives but it’s really just winter morphing into summer,  or the fairly dry season of more warmth and more sun.

To me, our climate is characterized by increasing and then decreasing intensity of precipitation and temperature.

So divvying up the “four seasons” into three-month calendrical segments makes a lot of sense to me.

So happy spring everybody!