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The Second Half: Spring has sprung

March 10, 2010

By Kathleen D. Tresemer
Columnist

Recently, one of our local weathermen mentioned that “meteorological spring” began March 1. I don’t know where I’ve been for the past half century, but I never heard of this phenomenon. I went online to investigate, and once again marveled, “I learn something new every day!”

Here’s what they said about meteorological spring on the Web site Seasons.com:

“Spring astronomically begins on the vernal equinox (when the tilt of the Earth’s axis is oriented such that the sun is located vertically above a point on the equator). …The vernal equinox occurs on March 20 or March 21 in the Northern Hemisphere. … Meteorological spring is the season when winter transitions into summer. In the Northern Hemisphere, meteorological spring covers the entire months of March, April and May.”

When I went to school, spring began March 21, and that was the first day you could begin wearing your new clothes and hats (yes, we girls got hats, usually made of straw, every spring to wear places like church and community events).

I recently ate at the Cracker Barrel restaurant in Janesville, Wis., where they had a section of seasonal items in their nostalgic shop. Their pastel selection of spring hats, dresses, and purses for kids caused me and my gal pal to exclaim loudly: “Oh, these are so cute! Remember when we wore things like this?!”

Our husbands were forced to seek refuge in the candy section, knowing the inevitability of our arrival there—in search of chocolate—sooner or later.

This got me thinking about the concept of a spring wardrobe: what is that, anyway? Not counting my dressing-for-success years, my traditional “spring wardrobe” has been strikingly similar to my winter wardrobe, except for the elimination of the “sweatshirt and/or long underwear” layer.

In an effort to be sophisticated, I explored “How to Build a Spring Wardrobe” at eHow.com, the Web site dedicated to “How To Do Just About Everything.” One of their hints: “Start building your spring wardrobe with a crisp, white cotton shirt. It can easily be dressed up with slacks, or dressed down when you tuck it into jeans or khakis.” They also recommended getting a “sharp blazer” and a raincoat.

Seems like this fashion advice works for guys, too. Most Second Half fellas I know celebrate the season with a new Harley T-shirt, or by switching from Carhartt knit hats to baseball caps. My unofficial tips to guys:

1. Get some new, good-quality T-shirts in any color you like—your old ones probably have holes, and you can see through ’em in places. Besides, nothing impresses a woman more than a guy asking, “Honey, should I tear up this old T-shirt for rags or just throw it away?”

2. Any shirt with buttons on it—sport shirt, polo, even Henley—makes you look more dressed up, so get a couple of new ones to impress us. Any clothes with writing on ’em should be reserved for sporting events, places that cater to men, or when riding motorcycles and horses.

3. Finally, never wear sandals with socks—NEVER.

On the flip side, springtime isn’t all tulips and bunnies. Spring is tropical cyclone season, bringing horrific and dangerous storms to places on earth that are otherwise thought of as “Paradise.” And paradise isn’t the only place that spring is the harbinger of Mother Nature’s temper. Wikipedia says this about the season’s downfalls:

“Unstable weather may more often occur during spring, when warm air begins on occasions to invade from lower latitudes, while cold air is still pushing on occasions from the Polar Regions. Flooding is also most common in and near mountainous areas during this time of year because of snowmelt, accelerated by warm rains. In the United States, Tornado Alley is most active this time of year, especially since the Rocky Mountains prevent the surging hot and cold air masses from spreading eastward and instead force them into direct conflict. Besides tornadoes, supercell thunderstorms can also produce dangerously large hail and very high winds, for which a severe thunderstorm warning or tornado warning is usually issued.”

Wow, bummer! But, to be honest, I love thunderstorms; for some odd reason, they make me feel good. I discovered I’m not alone in this—Ask.com led me to the Peak Pure Air site, which explained why I feel this way:

“After a lightning storm, most of us feel invigorated and refreshed. This is because the electrical storm has generated trillions of gloriously tranquilizing negative ions that ease tension and leave us full of energy. … ‘The action of the pounding surf creates negative air ions and we also see it immediately after spring thunderstorms when people report lightened moods,’ says ion researcher Michael Terman, Ph.D., of Columbia University in New York.”

Read the whole article at http://www.peakpureair.com/negative_ions.htm for more interesting facts. This tells me, from a scientific viewpoint, why going to the beach in winter improves our sense of well-being. Seems like insurance should cover a trip like that, in lieu of anti-depressants!

It cheers me to celebrate the arrival of spring—not once, but twice! In spite of the dangerous weather and my clothing concerns, I think springtime is worth celebrating…right up there with my birthday and any holiday that involves eating chocolate. In that spirit, here is my gift to you—a site describing this year’s Top Chocolate Bunnies and how to buy them:

http://gourmetfood.-about.com/od/wheretobuy-gourmetfoods/tp/top10choc-bunny.htm.

Happy spring!

In her second half of life, Kathleen D. Tresemer is both a journalist and an award-winning fiction writer. She lives with her husband on a small ranch in rural Shirland, Ill. Kathleen can be contacted by e-mail at kdt-insights@hot-mail.com.

From the Mar. 10-16, 2010 issue

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