This year, the long-anticipated spring season comes in with a bang.
After a winter of discontent, as Shakespeare might have described the all-around miserable Maine winter of 2018-2019, the spring equinox finally bursts forth March 20, with a full moon no less. Not only that, it’s a rare super moon, with the moon appearing larger and brighter than usual.
Spring, scientifically speaking, is a wonder of the heavens. The first day of spring occurs when the center of the sun crosses the equator at dawn and then sets over the equator at night. The spring equinox and autumnal equinox are the only days of the year when the sun rises due east and sets due west. It’s kind of a big deal.
Indeed, as it usually does, the equinox happens with most of us hardly noticing the skies above because, well, we have jobs and families to tend to instead. Spring is a great time of year, though, and most of us feel deep down that the season is a chance for renewal.
Most of all, we love to see the lengthening daylight hours. All this wondrous light leads to other natural processes. We keep an eye out for buds on the trees and snowdrops on the lawn. We go from a wintry monochromatic landscape where the only colors we see are the double yellow lines on the roads to, maybe a month after spring arrives here in Maine, a canopy of supple green leaves that fills the forest’s empty spaces.
Through the ages, people have enthusiastically celebrated the season known for hope and promise. Prehistoric folks built monuments to mark it. Classical music lovers will note that Vivaldi’s “Four Seasons” begins with spring. “The Rite of Spring” is a rollicking modern piece by Igor Stravinsky. Poems abound regarding the wonders of spring.
In allegory, the baby is born at the spring equinox, buds and grows in the springtime of life, thrives during the summer of life, grows older and wiser in fall and withers and dies in winter. It’s the cycle of life, and it all starts right now.
Spring is more than the earth orbiting the sun; it’s a way of thinking. It’s throwing out the old and starting anew. I always think of New Year’s Day as a time of renewal. But maybe spring is a second chance for those who’ve failed to live up to their resolutions?
So how will you mark springtime renewal this year?
I know I have a big list of things I want to do. I always have a big list. Spurred on by emotion, I have a productive month or two and then those resolutions are out the window. Springtime resolve has a way of dying on the vine. When summer hits, the heat urges me to “cool it,” rather than go hike that high mountain, or tackle that long bike ride, or undertake that necessary house repair.
By midsummer, I’m taking for granted the copious hours of daylight and warm weather, thinking these good times will last forever. I barely remember what winter feels like. It’s like life, really. When we’re in the summer of life, we think it’ll last forever. We end up wasting our time forgetting that winter, eventually, comes to all.
My goal this spring is simple: take advantage of the light.
John Balentine, a former managing editor for Sun Media Group, lives in Windham.