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Spring Starts Her Annual Miracle

It's official, March 20 is the first day of spring, an annual time of wonder for those who understand the hour hand.

The vernal equinox will occur at 1:14 a.m. EST on Tuesday, making March 20 the first day of spring for 2012.

Some are convinced that extra balancing powers will be unleashed — at the moment of the equinox when the sun is positioned directly over the equator. Others believe the magic of equilibrium is at work for a full 24 hours. And they hail it as the one day of the year that you can balance an egg on its end.

Thus as Tuesday wears on, videos will likely pop up on YouTube showing people trying to balance eggs or broomsticks and other laughable feats.

Maybe worth a watch, but easily eclipsed by the more amazing fanfare coming our way on Tuesday. Dry branches appearing all but dead a month ago will be shooting green sprigs ready to play. Birds wearing wild reds and a kaleidoscope of colors will fly into Greenbelt's forests and onto the lake — some passing through others returning from as far off as Central America — sharing fairy tunes that will lilt and drift along our woods' flowing canopy.

It would be a shame to overlook their songs for broomsticks and crashing eggs. But I can't scold, having missed way too much of way too many springs. Almost every year for the past ten, I pull out Henry Wadsworth Longfellow to remind myself why I shouldn't pass up one more day of the golden and green.

On the first day of spring some quotes-folk are bound to cite the condensed version of Longfellow's poetic excerpt from "Kavanagh," jumping right to the most dramatic part. I'm including some of its gentler parts, as bypassing the slow moving hour-hand seems to be exactly what Longfellow mourns.

Wordsworth on Spring from "Kavanagh"

Ah, how wonderful is the advent of the Spring! — the great annual miracle of the blossoming of Aaron's rod, repeated on myriads and myriads of branches! — the gentle progression and growth of herbs, flowers, trees, — gentle, and yet irrepressible, — which no force can stay, no violence restrain, like love, that wins its way and cannot be withstood by any human power, because itself is divine power. If Spring came but once in a century, instead of once a year, or burst forth with the sound of an earthquake, and not in silence, what wonder and expectation would there be in all hearts to behold the miraculous change!

But now the silent succession suggests nothing but necessity. To most men, only the cessation of the miracle would be miraculous, and the perpetual exercise of God's power seems less wonderful than its withdrawal would be. We are like children who are astonished and delighted only by the second-hand of the clock, not by the hour-hand.

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