The Old Farmer’s Almanac’s prediction that the winter of 2021-22 would be a “Season of Shivers” punctuated by “positively bone-chilling, below-average temperatures” has certainly been right on! Now, Mother Nature is working on putting away her flannel sheets and winter blankets and shaking out her flowered spring linens. Although my exploration today of Topsmead cottage’s sheltered walled garden and south garden revealed flower beds still snuggling under their icy sheets of winter snow, there were patches of green appearing along the front side of the cottage.
Meteorologically, spring begins on March 1. Astronomically, spring begins with the spring, or vernal, equinox. Equinox is derived from the Latin aequus (equal) and nox (night). At the precise moment of the spring equinox, the amount of daylight will be equal to the amount of darkness. That moment will arrive at Topsmead this year on Sunday, March 20 at precisely 11:33 a.m. Eastern time. Perhaps by that moment, we will be able to see the tips of early spring growth bravely peeking out to evaluate the status of the sunshine and the snow cover.
However, to keep us from getting too eager for spring, The Old Farmers’ Almanac cautions that spring weather will not be all that rosy this year. Warm days “will be few and far between. In fact, around the time of the vernal equinox, unseasonably cold temperatures may grip many parts of the country” and the weather will continue winter’s “flip-flopping.”
Amidst March’s flip-flopping of weather and the amidst the world’s flip-flopping of democracy and autocracy, perhaps we can take hope from one of the myths surrounding the vernal equinox. Some believe that at the moment of the vernal equinox you can balance an egg on its end. The thinking is that the sun’s position relative to the earth not only equalizes light and darkness, but that it also equalizes the push and pull of its gravitational force on the earth; hence, an egg can be easily balanced on its end. Balance is certainly a starting point....
Hopefully, after the balanced vernal equinox moment, when the egg falls over and the balance between light and dark begins to topple, we can take comfort knowing that daylight will begin to win out over darkness, the Topsmead landscape will awaken with fresh growth, and the world will begin to enter a new spring.