Sunday, March 27, 2016

First Day of Spring

Pear Buds
"Some people find fall depressing, others hate spring. I’ve always been a spring person myself. All that growth, you can feel Nature groaning, the old bitch; she doesn’t want to do it, not again, no, anything but that, but she has to. It’s a fucking torture rack, all that budding and pushing, the sap up the tree trunks, the weeds and the insects getting set to fight it out once again, the seeds trying to remember how the hell the DNA is supposed to go, all that competition for a little bit of nitrogen; Christ, it’s cruel." John Updike, The Witches of Eastwick

I have read several books by John Updike and I love his sensual somewhat erotic descriptions of otherwise mundane occurrences. In the brief quote above, he calls attention to sap, weeds and insects most people view those things as nuisances.

I’m a little late in writing this post… Easter is directly linked with the first day of spring because it is always the first Sunday, following the full moon, after the spring equinox.

In the northern hemisphere, the beginning of spring is considered to be the time when day and night are roughly equal. I was watching the news on the 1st of March and the weatherman called that day the first day of “meteorological spring” which I had never heard of the term before, but it means the months are divided into three months most closely related to temperature. The three warmest months are summer and the three coldest are winter. In other words, March, April and May are considered to be meteorological spring.
Blueberry Flowers


 I find it strange that many cultures do not view the spring and vernal  equinoxes as a significant time to divide the seasons. The Chinese  calendar and Celtic tradition place the first day of spring between the  winter solstice and spring equinox or around the beginning of  February. Imbolc refers to the Celtic spring with etymology possibly to  the old Irish world meaning “in the belly” linking to the lambing  season. There are several megaliths in Ireland aligned with the rising  sun during the time of Imbolc constructed during the Neolithic Age  (≈10,200-2000 BC). It’s interesting to note that Imbolc was also a time  for weather divination by watching to see if snakes and badgers came  out of their dens. Groundhog Day can almost be considered a type of  weather divination and is held roughly the same time as Imbolc.  Groundhogs are a little safer to watch than snakes and badgers but  native only to North America.


On researching spring, I came across an interesting Gaelic myth about Cailleach she is a weather, ancestor and creator deity. She is considered to be the Queen of Winter and gathers firewood on the Imbolc. If the weather is fair it means she can gather a lot of wood in preparation for creating a long winter. In contrast, if the weather is bad it means Cailleach is still asleep and not gathering firewood so the winter will be short. A specific day is used for weather divination for a season.      
Sugar Snap Pea Sprouts

 I included three photos of how the first day of  spring on March 20th looked this year. The pear  tree is usually tricked by the first warm spell and  blooms early in the season which usually results  in no pears because the last frost for where I live  is around the beginning of May. The individual  blueberry bush is rather early for flowers and  was the only one in bloom. Blueberries can  handle cold down to around 28°F, and I have yet  to have a year without blueberries so they should  be fine. Sugar snap peas are extremely cold tolerant and can tolerate quite a bit of snow I sowed the pea seeds on March 7th. Some people in western NC begin them as early as the end of February.