Hearth to Heart: Winter’s Final Throes


We can never be sure how long and hard we’ll be blasted with cold days at any time of year, but the hope of spring is dancing closer. Thoughts that spring is officially less than a month away lift my spirits, even though I accept the fact that my winter apparel (gloves, scarves, and occasionally boots) must remain at the ready for some time to come.

A dear friend, who taunted fate all winter with his near-weekly trips to the ski slopes, broke his collar bone recently, putting an end to his winter sport. I haven’t begun my winter sport. Although my outdoor winter activities don’t amount to much, I usually take a token sled ride down the hill at Dad’s farm. That hasn’t worked itself into my schedule so far this year.

My sledding has become a token ride since my willingness to brave the cold and my nonchalance in crouching on the old wooden sled become more difficult to weigh against the brief thrill I take in speeding over the snow, the cold air fluttering against my face. If our snowy days persist, don’t blame Punxsutawney Phil; you may lay the blame on me and any visions I’m having about sled riding.

Even though there’s a chance I’ll take a sled ride this March (or even April), spring lurks just in the wings offstage, waiting to make an entrance that will probably keep my sled in the barn. According to Eric Weissteins’ World of Astronomy web site, spring arrives at three minutes before 6 p.m. on March 20, the day when day and night are nearly the same length.

Even if cold weather continues, Easter’s early timing this year goes even further in ending the façade of winter. Keep in mind that the actual date for Easter can be as early as March 22 or as late as April 25. Easter 2008 falls on March 23 on our western calendar, which is set by the Easter Rule, adopted in 325 A.D., that “Easter shall be celebrated on the first Sunday after the first full moon on or after the vernal equinox.”

This proves that the moon’s phases, putting psychological effect aside, truly affect us in practical ways. Psychological and practical don’t separate easily for me. We’ll be celebrating St. Patrick’s Day the day after Palm Sunday. In my holiday confusion, I’ve decided that the wreath on my door should display both eggs and shamrocks, not an unattractive combination, but I’ll probably have to come up with it myself.

Let’s hope that warm, sunny hours invade the gray, damp and dreary times so frequent in Ohio springs. I need to clean my van inside and out, I need to clear my house of must and dust and purge it of excess “stuff”, and, don’t forget, I need to change the wreath on my door.


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