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THE INFERNAL EQUINOX

It’s starting…

Trees budding. Robins hopping around the back yard. Ants in the kitchen. All sure signs of spring around my house, and it couldn’t be more welcome. Today, the weatherman is predicting highs in the low 70’s with a guaranteed bad hair day due to windy conditions. Last week we had snow. I’ve lived in Missouri long enough to know this is a normal weather pattern this time of year.

Even as Mother Nature’s pendulum swings between snowflakes and sunshine, people like me, who get spring fever on the day after Christmas, will not have our optimism deterred. Spring is coming, and we don’t want to hear anything different.

According to the Farmer’s Almanac, spring in the Northern Hemisphere begins this year on March 20 at precisely 1:14 am EDT, at the time of the vernal equinox. (Equinox is a fancy Latin word meaning equal night.) On that day, “the sun rises exactly due east and sets exactly due west. The day and night are each approximately 12 hours long.”

Approximately?

Reading further, I discover that on March 16th there will be 11:59 hours of daylight and on the 17th there will be 12:02 hours of daylight. So why are we waiting until March 20th to declare spring? By then, we’ll be soaking up a glorious 12:11 hours of daylight. I thought this was science.

Every time I mention planting flowers or pulling my capri pants out of the closet, my daughter, the more literal of my two offspring, reminds me that spring doesn’t officially start until the calendar says it starts on March 20. That may be true – technically.

But I don’t need my daughter, or the calendar, or the Farmer’s Almanac to tell me when spring starts. I can feel it in my bones.

HOODIE-HOO DAY

One of my favorite holidays is coming up. It’s even better than Ground Hog Day. If you’re like me, and you start getting spring fever on the first day of winter, you’ll love this holiday, too.

Monday, February 20 is Northern Hemisphere Hoodie-Hoo Day. There are no presents to buy. No decorating to do. No baking to be done. No work involved at all. To celebrate, put on springy clothes, grab your sunglasses, a handkerchief or something similar, and go outside at 11:55 am. Look for the sun. Think about all the things you love about spring:  warmer weather, flowers, thunderstorms, warmer weather, short sleeves, iced tea, warmer weather, etc. At high noon (local time) face the sun, wave your handkerchief, and call out, “Hoodie-Hoo! Hoodie-Hoo!” Yes! Out LOUD! This is no time for timidity. Just like when we were kids and our intense hand-clapping saved Tinkerbelle’s life, our collective cries of “Hoodie-Hoo!” will chase away winter and usher in spring. So put your heart into it. Who cares if the neighbors stare and point over the fence? It’s fun. And besides, they’ll thank us soon enough.

Then get ready. Order that seed catalog. Sharpen your mower blades. Buy a new jar for sun tea. Spring is on its way. Target already has swimsuits in stock. They know it won’t be long now before we’ll all be spreading GrubEx and grass seed and listening for the ding-ding-ding of the ice cream truck. I can almost taste that cherry Bomb Pop now…

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For more information on Northern Hemisphere Hoodie-Hoo Day, and to see a few photos of past celebrations, visit http://www.wellcat.com/february/northern_hemisphere_hoodie.htm.