Randi Kreiss

The sun shivers and shudders northward


“You can cut all the flowers, but you cannot keep Spring from coming.”
–Pablo Neruda
Don’t believe me. Don’t believe the National Weather Service. But come hell or high water (and both are coming!), you better believe the Farmers’ Almanac. Those dudes, with their secret algorithms and witching sticks, are forecasting a challenging spring, followed by a beastly hot summer.
Spring will officially arrive next Monday at 5:24 p.m. EDT, when the sun crosses the equator, sailing north. However, the Farmers’ Almanac says cold temperatures, freezing rain and even snow may dot the northern landscape well into April. You were expecting daffodils and lilacs? You know very well that nothing rolls the way it used to, including the weather.
Eventually the lilacs will bloom and our hearts, slowed and steadied by hours and days in sedentary hibernation, will dance to a livelier beat. We will have survived, and only sunny days will lie ahead. At least, that’s what the poets say.

Have you seen any of the early signs of spring?
According to the Almanac, worms begin to emerge from the ground this month. Indeed, the March moon is called the full worm moon.
Birds are migrating northward, along the path of the sun. Apparently, the increasing sunlight inspires birdsong.
Of course, trees, shrubs and flowers are reactive to temperature and sunlight. According to the F.A., since ancient times, people have used flora as indicators of when the time is right to plant. For example, when the crocus blooms, it’s the cue to plant radishes, parsnips and spinach.
The agonizing turn from hard winter to early spring feels hopeful. You don’t have to live on a farm to study the Farmers’ Almanac and appreciate the old-time folk tales and wisdom. Did you know, for example, that you could balance an egg on its end during the vernal equinox? It’s true. You can balance it on other days as well, but it makes a good story.
Many of us have been suffering serious winter fatigue or worse, exacerbated by Covid isolations. Too many older residents in our communities have been shut in all winter, hindered by the cold and the fear of falling on the ice. People have been afraid to drive. For several weeks, amid successive storms, cabin fever went viral.
I offer an it-can-always-be-worse story. We have kids and grandkids out West in a small High Sierra mountain town you may be reading about. The teenage grandkids have had two days of school in the last two-plus weeks. High walls of snow line the few roads that have been plowed. The interstate that connects them to the rest of the world has been closed on and off for weeks. In the last 10 days, 12 feet of snow fell. That isn’t a typo. And last weekend they were expecting another three feet.
The kids have been entertaining themselves by jumping off the roofs into the snow. They dug a path out of the house for the dog, who would rather stay inside by the fire, thank you. My grandson’s high school closed for a time because the roof was caving in. People who live there to ski can’t ski. No hiking. No biking. No skateboarding. Epic cabin fever abounds.
Even here on Long Island, you can admire the pristine mornings for just so long. Cravings for carbs have driven our meal choices. Our skin is pasty, our muscles like Jell-O. I have faith that any day now, the mercury will start rising and the sun will dry out the soggy flowerbeds where spring flowers are trying to set roots. The season may not have turned yet, but we have reason to hope, and I will predict a balmy end to April.
The Almanac agrees. They say it will be a slow and stormy warmup, but it will come. What will also come is another blast of wicked weather this summer. According to the F.A., “Another threat of severe weather, this one more widespread, is forecast around the time of the June solstice, as a surge of very warm, humid, and unstable air triggers showers, violent thunderstorms and possibly even a twister or two” in the central and eastern parts of the country.
Let’s ground ourselves in this moment. The rule is: When the sun takes its place over the equator, it is spring in the northern hemisphere. Winter is all memory; summer is just over the horizon. It is inevitable, and it is elemental. As Neruda says, “You can cut all the flowers, but you cannot keep Spring from coming.”

Copyright 2023 Randi Kreiss. Randi can be reached at randik3@aol.com.