Spring Is Sprung

Spring Is Sprung

The grass is riz

I wonder where the boidies is?

Many people are familiar with this children’s rhyme and often recite it when springtime arrives. The origins of the verse are obscure – with some people linking it to the poet Ogden Nash – but it probably predates him and is part of a far older piece of nonsense doggerel.

Friday 20th March marks the start of the spring season. Astronomically speaking, the March equinox occurs when the Sun crosses the celestial equator on its way north along the ecliptic. In the Northern Hemisphere, the March equinox is known as the vernal, or spring, equinox, and marks the start of the spring season. It is the day the sun shines directly over the equator and it is said that one can balance an egg on its end on the date of the equinox – why not do an experiment to see if this is true? Meteorologically speaking, however, in the Northern Hemisphere the official spring season always begins on March 1st and continues through to May 31st. This day also sees a rare solar eclipse with the moon blocking up to 98% of sunlight in the UK.

Humans living thousands of years ago may not have known the details of this astronomy, but over generations they certainly learned that the Earth gets warmer and colder in pretty regular cycles, with the spring equinox marking one point when the Northern Hemisphere begins to shrug off winter’s cold. Warmer temperatures thaw frozen ground to make it easier for planting crops, increased rainfall waters these and animals that hibernated over winter emerge from their dens. There might not be anything mystical about the coming of the spring time, but in purely biological terms the Earth is indeed coming back to life.

Humans are diurnal animals and we are happiest in the light. With the long, dark months of winter behind us, spring signals nature’s renewal. Worms begin to emerge from the earth, ladybirds start landing, green shoots appear and flowers begin to bloom.

Subtropical and tropical areas have climates better described in terms of other seasons, e.g. dry or wet, monsoonal or cyclonic. However, in the northern hemisphere, spring and "springtime" not only refer to the season but also to ideas of rebirth, rejuvenation, renewal, resurrection and regrowth. For this reason it’s no surprise spring coincides with Passover in the Jewish faith (commemorating the release of the Jewish people from slavery in Egypt) and Easter in the Christian calendar (celebrating the resurrection of Christ after his crucifixion).

As the American comedian Robert Orben said : "Spring is God’s way of saying, One more time!" Do something yourself to celebrate this season of rebirth – plant some bulbs, paint an egg or do a spring clean! Winter is on its way out and summer just around the corner.

Ray Henshaw