In the Right Place: Spring unsprung

By Richard Leighton

The significant snowstorm shown in the accompanying photograph was taken on April 10 of last year at the beginning of the Easter weekend in Brooklin. Stated another way, it’s time that we had a candid talk about spring here in Downeast Maine.

We have three springtimes. First, we’ve already begun calendar (meteorological) spring, which began March 1. Second, we’ll begin daylight (astronomical) spring on March 21. Third, and most important, we’ll begin Maine psychological spring at some uncertain time before July, if we’re lucky.

Calendar spring consists of March, April and May in the United States and other countries in the temperate (Northern Hemisphere) regions. When putting together the Gregorian calendar, it apparently was decided that there also could be four seasons annually based on meteorological temperatures. So, here we Mainers already are in spring, meteorologically speaking, and not feeling anything special.

Not to worry. Scientists who keep track of the Earth’s spins and tilts in the Northern Hemisphere decided that a better first day of spring would be the March vernal equinox, notwithstanding what the season worshippers say. This year’s vernal equinox will come in nine days, when our daylight time will become roughly equal to our darkness time. That first day of spring also will be the beginning of a daily increase in daylight for a while. Maybe some of us will be getting spring feelings then.

But not many, we would guess. Most of us wait for Maine psychological spring (MPS), which makes Maine special. It will arrive if and when we get that lilting feeling that could mean nothing but the arrival of the real spring that we know when we see and sniff it. This might be a few days in May or early June, which some people here will call “Spummertime.”

Our short-lived MPS is too individualistic to be named or defined by scientists. Perhaps we should rely on the considerable expertise of Maine funeral directors. They’re famous for knowing the time when our March and April mud has firmed enough and our ground has thawed enough to resume affordable outside burial services — “spurialtime,” so to speak.

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