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Reflections! And suddenly it's spring!

And suddenly it's spring!
By William L. Bulla

Today, March 20, 2011 is the first day of spring! After all of winter's cold, snowy, windy, wet weather the mention of spring gladdens the heart! At least, it does mine, and probably many other seniors.
The spring season offers an escape for families who've been trapped indoors all winter. After a hard winter, spring is so pleasant. It brings with it such renewal, such hope, such freshness.
This first day of spring is determined by the day on which the vernal equinox occurs. The word "equinox" comes from Latin and means "equal nights." This is when the sun sits directly above the equator on its apparent trip northward. Of course this sun isn't moving, but our earth is. As earth revolves around the sun, the top half, called the Northern Hemisphere, becomes tilted more toward the sun as winter turns to spring.
On March 20, sunrise and sunset are about twelve hours apart everywhere on earth. But actually the day is a little longer than the night on this date. There are a few reasons for that. Sunrise occurs when the top of the sun (not the center) is on the horizon. But the sun actually appears to be above the horizon when it is still below it. That's because earth's atmosphere refracts or "bends" light coming from the sun, so we see the sun a couple of minutes before it actually rises over the horizon. If you add the daylight that persists after sunset, you'll find the day on the equinox is several minutes longer than the night.
Oh springtime...that glorious season between winter and summer! Once again we can enjoy the sounds of birds and the feel and smell of fresh warmer air. The signs of spring are everywhere - from the budding of the trees to the new birth of every flower blossom, sprig of grass and animal. The temperatures are warming up and the hibernating animals are coming out of their winter dens for the taste and smells of all things new.
Spring of the year is a favorite season for many people, and it is certainly easy to understand why this is so. Spring is when the earth comes back to life after a long cold winter, and it is in the spring when the first flowers begin to bloom and the green world begins to return after its winter slumber.
In the United States, spring is a time of transition not only for plant and animal life, but for the weather too. Spring is often a very rainy and muddy season. It can mean weather extremes from very cold and snowy days to humid and stormy days. Some of the country's biggest snowfalls have occurred in March, and the period from March to May is the time of year when much of the south is most likely to get severe thunderstorms with hail and even tornadoes.
Spring offers a variety of outdoor activities to many people.
For the gardener, the spring is one of the most pleasant times. It is the time when the bulbs that were carefully planted in the fall begin to grow and blossom. Spring is when the first seedlings are put into the garden to provide glorious flowers later in the year, as well as, many vegetable items to grace the dinner table. There is no doubt that the spring is one of the most beautiful, and most colorful, of all seasons for the gardener.
Many homeowners spent winter months planning a home improvement project that could not go forward while the weather was too cold. In the spring, the weather is neither too hot nor too cold, and the homeowner has plenty of daylight in which to work. It is no wonder that the spring season is one of the busiest for home improvement stores and warehouses.
Spring brings a smile to the face of those interested in outdoor sports...the walkers, runners, bikers, motorcyclists, fishermen, baseball players and picnickers to mention some. The activities they enjoy were often not available because of wild winter weather.
Of course, some of us enjoyed sitting in front of a roaring fireplace. However, now that spring has arrived, I guess I will have to settle for picnics, and maybe a bonfire with roasting marshmallows.

William L. Bulla is a freelance writer residing in Washington County.

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