Ready for an equinox

Red Winged Blackbird © Steve Byland |

The red-winged blackbird has a distinctive chitter, and being clever birds, they flee south in the winter, so hearing that chitter again the other day was a welcome sign of spring.

The daffodils ought to be poking up any day now.

Today is the last day of winter in these parts. People who know about such things say the vernal equinox will pass through here around 10:33 a.m. Sunday, March 20. I’m ready.

I tell the story of my freshman year in Wisconsin, having grown up in New Jersey, and we hit a crazy February cold spell where the temperature was -20 or colder for, my memory says about two weeks, but maybe it was four or five days. 

Anyway, one morning the sun was shining and the wind was calm, and it felt good walking out from the dorm. I even unzipped my coat a little bit because I was getting too warm under the layers. I walked downtown, enjoying what felt like the first hint of spring, and was shocked to see the Ripon State Bank time and temp sign reading -6. Now, that was less cold than it had been, but of course it’s still too darn cold. That was when I realized I had turned into a Wisconsinite, and have stayed that way for more than 50 years now.

But just because my body is acclimated to this climate does not mean I especially like it. As warm air returns, we feel our bodies relax and only then do we realize how much we have been clenched against the cold and we can start living outside again.

All around the house the red-winged blackbirds are chittering, and robins have been spotted in the land, and cardinals are pairing up and getting ready to make new little cardinals. And the sun …

The sun will be above the horizon more than below for the next six months, culminating on that glorious day in June when we get 16 hours and 38 minutes of daylight. A body can get used to this.

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