- The Washington Times - Saturday, March 11, 2000

One might have thought that the glorious weather of the last 10 days would have put an end to the absurd contention that the seasons are neatly divided into four equal segments, with spring, for instance, beginning on March 21. But No. TV, radio and newspapers insist every day that it is not yet "officially" spring, and that we are still in winter.
The height of idiocy was reached when a writer penned the following in a competing newspaper about one recent warm day: "It may still have been winter, but the sublime and record-breaking weather lulled much of nature into thinking it was spring yesterday." Of course, nature was right. What does the writer think spring is?
Let's go back to basics. Spring is life returning after the dead of winter. You can tell it is here when you see snowdrops and crocuses blooming and buds appearing on the trees. Nature, not man, decides when spring begins and this year it has already been here for about three weeks. Sometimes it comes early, sometimes late.
As anyone with a rudimentary knowledge of nature or an ounce of romance in the soul well-knows, the hounds of spring set off on winter's traces, in the words of the poet Swinburne, any time from early February onward. It is then, when the first stirrings begin, as another poet put it, that "a young man's fancy lightly turns to thoughts of love."
Once spring has started, a cold snap or a sudden snowfall does not mean that winter has returned, as so many people seem to believe. The frost may nip some flowers in the bud, but it cannot reverse the titanic forces of earth's renewal. It is not the temperature on a given day or a fixed date on a calendar that decides when winter is over. It is life itself.
So let's forget about winter still being here when the temperature is 85 degrees and the early spring flowers are in full bloom. Let's enjoy the spring now, and when it gets to summer let's enjoy that too without waiting for what in other cultures is considered mid-summer to start appreciating it.
Fortunately, the Washington area is usually blessed with a wonderful spring, longer than in many other parts of the country. Even if ignorant local commentators have lulled themselves into thinking it's still winter, it is high time to go outside, and watch, with Swinburne again, as "in green underwood and cover, blossom by blossom the spring begins."

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