How’re you liking Spring so far?

Yes, indeedy, the official astronomical beginning of Spring was on Wednesday, March 20 at 7:02, EDT ( Or 11:02, UTC).  Actually, I lied; according to the Farmer’s Almanac there is no “official” start to any of the seasons.  That all depends upon the climate of an individual country.  It IS, of course, the Vernal Equinox, the date  on which the daytime and the nighttime are roughly the same, at 12 hours each.  It is the date on which the sun rises due East and sets due West.  It is the date on which the sun is directly overhead at noon on the Equator.  It is the date on which the tilt of the Earth’s axis relative to the Sun is zero.  We’re still tilted but the effect of THAT is really what the summer and winter solstices are about; we’re waiting for June 21 now.

By the by, that UTC stands for Coordinated Universal Time.  Why isn’t it CUT then, you’re asking (I heard you out there.).  It’s those crazy French-speakers again.  This is a compromise amongst all of the picky scientific types–members of the International Telecommunications Union– in the world, with their atomic clocks (Who probably NEVER say “See you later!” but always, “Catch you at 11:02,UTC!”).  Count your blessings; it could have been Temps Universel Coordonne. Wouldn’t THAT have been fun?

I’m going with the pronouncement of Emliss Ricks, formerly with the ODNR and now with the James H. Barrow Biology Station of Hiram College.  He’s my go-to guy for just about all things outdoorsy when the Near-by Nature gurus are unavailable.  Emliss says that the red-wing blackbirds are back and that is the end of the discussion, as far as he’s concerned.  O.K. by me.  Still cold as a metal marmoset’s nether parts some nights.

There are some shivering bluebirds and robins out there who might beg to differ about the designation of what we’ve got as Spring, but they’ll just have to suck it up and head to the more generous feeders around and about.  I’m trying to do my part by serving up more of the A-list bird feed, stuff with sunflower seed (hulled), peanuts, raisins, heaven- only-knows what else.  Could just as easily put out a neon sign saying, ”EATS” but birds are notoriously poor readers.

The squirrels are hanging out below the feeders because the birds are similarly notorious for being messy eaters.  There are seeds and hulls all over the place.  The squirrels also seem to be suffering from some sort of identity crisis because there are a lot of multi-colored ones out here.  Black ones have moved in –from Kent, I guess–but there are also black ones with red tails, gray ones with black ears, a couple of chocolate-cherry oddballs, at least one that looked like he was in camo…planning a raid on a fortified feeder someplace?

Anyway, it must be spring because I spotted the barbeque grills lined up outside of the garden section of Wal-Mart…chained together and covered with snow.

The new tree is still upright, showing no nibble marks by the beaver.  I’m seriously thinking of wrapping the trunk with something with a nasty taste( possibly socks retrieved from some boys’ locker room?) so that it survives to live up to its name–Sunburst Locust.  The snowdrops are drooping.  The little crocus clumps are sort of huddled together trying to hold out until the temperature inches up again.  The tulips have ducked back under the mulch.

In the event that “Those April showers will bring May flowers”, I should be in good shape in the lawn AND on the house, which just got a new LeafFilter dress-up outfit for all of the gutters.  The installation crew arrived on the same day that I went to the auction; I should have stayed to supervise, would have been cheaper.  The old covers, even with fewer pine trees around, were causing major dripping all the way along, especially, the west side, with one weird result being that the splash reached the (1927) ceramic tile basement foundation, seeped its way down through the hollow core of the blocks, around a corner –two of them, actually–and appeared as a not-so-lovely “water feature” down in the new basement, which remained dry-as-a-bone on its own.  The irony of it was that the drip was showing up right next to the dehumidifier, which was humming its little heart out trying to keep the addition as dry as possible so that the floorboards didn’t expand and pop out of their little sockets.  The older part of the house had no concerns in this area because the gaps between the boards could have allowed anything short of a Belgian draft horse to amble on through with no problem.  Carpet can cover a multitude of sins.

I’ll know that this is for real when I can start hanging laundry out on the line again.  Oh sure, I know that this can be done even in the winter; I remember my mother doing it– the clothes and sheets coming in stiff as a board–and don’t wish to repeat that particular childhood memory(She also sometimes had to hang things up in the basement to finish drying.  Not a great option when the basement has a dirt floor).  Ah, carefree youth!