Sunday, March 20, 2011

Spring is here.

Snowy Forest
(All photos clickable)

Well, it's coming, anyway. Right now, it's 33ºF outside the cabin. That's above freezing! As far as I know, it has only reached above freezing twice since October-ish.

Front Porch

Today is the spring equinox, marking what is typically recognized as the first day of spring. Which is kind of a silly concept, since winter -> spring isn't something that happens on a single day, but if you have to pick a day for it, the equinox is a good choice. What's really happening today is the Earth has reached a point in its orbit around the Sun where the day is the same length as the night. Which is not really true due to atmospheric effects. But close enough. The rotational axis of the Earth is now parallel to a plane through the Sun with its normal in the Earth direction. If you want to say the equinox is the day when day and night are equal, I won't argue with you. I say that all the time. Now you see why it makes sense to call this day the 'first day of spring'. Before today, night was longer than day. Very winterlike, don't you think? After today, day will be longer than night, and getting longer every day. Which is a spring state of affairs, don't you agree? It's all about how much sunlight we're getting.

Snowy Forest

By the way, Arkansas, starting today, Fairbanks' days will be longer than yours, culminating in the summer solstice midnight sun.


So anyway, it's a beautiful, warm, sunny 33ºF day in Fairbanks. Yes, warm. What feels 'cold' or 'warm' really is a relative thing. A couple of years ago I camped at the Great Sand Dunes in Colorado, and the overnight low was 0ºF. I was like 'Wow, it's really cold.' A year ago Christmas break I experienced 12ºF below zero, not far from the same place. That was the coldest I'd ever been, and I was like 'OMGWTFBBQ!!!11' I spent this winter in Fairbanks, where it got down to 45ºF below a few times, and 20ºF below is generally considered the cutoff for it to be 'cold'. Yesterday morning I hopped in the car on a 15ºF below morning, about the same temperature as that which freaked me out a year ago, and said 'Woo, it's kind of chilly this morning.

Snowy Truck

Several small songbirds are fluttering around outside my big picture window, checking the bird feeders (which are empty). They take a mouthful of snow before they move under the trees to forage. That's how they drink when all the water is frozen up. I think I'll buy them some birdseed.