Spring is sprung, the grass is riz
I wonder where the boidies is
They say the boid is on the wing
But that’s absoid, the wing is on the boid!
Of course, spring was never something to be treated with such levity, it was too serious a matter, and arguing that the Celts were right and that it starts on 1st February takes persuasion with those who associate it with flowers and fine weather.
It’s not about the weather, I argued this morning. It’s about the light. The darkest season of the year is over. Steve, my colleague, looked sceptical, or perhaps he just wanted to go to make a cup of tea.
Of course, the meteorologists would agree with Steve’s scepticism. Their definition of the seasons uses calendar months: winter is December to February; spring, from March to May; summer, June to August; and autumn, September to November.
Even more sceptical than Steve would be our Somerset primary school teacher. Using the definition of the seasons she taught us at our primary school, there is not just a month, but a full seven weeks of winter remaining.
We were repeatedly taught the astronomical seasons, which fell into four neat quarters – winter ran from the solstice until the spring equinox; spring from the equinox until the summer solstice; summer from the solstice until the vernal equinox; and autumn from the equinox until the winter solstice.
So, the weather people have spring starting on 1st March and astronomers have it starting a further three weeks later, how spring start today?
It’s about the light. The shortest day is usually 21st/22nd December. The quarter beginning on 1st November and ending on 31st January has the shortest day at its middle. It is the darkest quarter; it is winter. The quarter beginning on 1st May and ending on 31st July, with the longest day around 21st/22nd June, is the lightest quarter; it is summer. The Celtic festivals of Imbolc on 1st February, Bealtaine on 1st May, Lughnasa on 1st August, and Samhain on 1st November, may mark seasons of weather, but they are much more seasons of light and darkness.
There were hints of light across the sky at seven o’clock this morning. I shall point out to Steve that his drive from rural Gloucestershire will be daylit before the meteorological spring begins, and certainly long before the vernal equinox marks the astronomical spring.