It's never taken much for me to see spring on the horizon, but over recent years it's gotten out of hand. There was a time when I would wait until at least St. Patrick's Day, or on the Vernal Equinox a few days later, to declare the seasonal change, but no longer. Now it seems that each year I keep pushing it forward just a little bit more.
Once March no longer served as a viable option, for a long spell the running of the Daytona 500 in February became my signpost. Now, with temperatures being what they have been, I don't know if I can wait that long. Even as one who has long proclaimed an abiding attachment to our four-season cycle, I'm ready for things to heat up a bit. An increase in the random motion of nearby molecules would be nice, indeed.
Well, now that Yuletide has come and gone and Twelfth Night has kicked off Carnival celebrations down in New Orleans, just maybe I can hang in there until Mardi Gras. But, if that doesn't work, if my somewhat inarticulate right knee continues to sound like the Baja Marimba Band every time I take a stroll around the neighborhood, for instance, look out Groundhog Day!
It's a mindset thing, of course, looking forward to the spiritual rebirth promised by spring and its logical connection to the northward journey of the sun and the hedonistic cult of shorts and sandals. Not that I want it to stop snowing. I hope it dumps in the mountains until the Yaks come home. In fact, that would serve to moderate temperatures and get the water year back on track, right?
I'm not sure why I see the parading of the "Krewes" down in the Big Easy as any kind of harbinger of spring. They've had Mardi Gras celebrations where the Zulus wore long johns and the Sazeracs resembled Jell-O shots. It's just that the thought of strutting in a "second line" behind a trad-jazz combo somehow warms my bones.
Mardi Gras can occur anytime between March 23 and April 25. This, of course, is due to its connection to Easter, which takes place annually on the first Sunday following the first full moon following the Vernal Equinox. Everybody with me here?
Fat Tuesday, the final day of revelry before Ash Wednesday, is always scheduled 47 days prior to Easter, a timeframe known as Lent, for which, once again, I'll probably give up abstinence. This year, with Easter on March 31, that would put Mardi Gras on February 12. I never once said there wouldn't be math involved.
The same goes for the Salt Lake St. Paddy's Day parade and Siamsa, the after party. There have been years cold enough to where I've seen the lines at Starbucks down at the Gateway longer than those leading to the Guinness kegs. Not much math here; the festivities are usually on the Saturday preceding March 17.
Again, it's all in the mind. Just the thought of donning the green and getting foolish carries with it a certain amount of thermal overtones. In fact, I've got this great green shirt my sister brought me from a music store near Galway that possesses thermal qualities sufficient to turn my nose red.
It's probably just the parade factor that I see in both Mardi Gras and St. Paddy's Day that causes me to think in terms of spring and warmth. Totally illogical, I know. What else could they possibly have in common? You don't think there's an axiom in the Second Law of Thermodynamics that draws a correlation between heat and demon rum do you?
I suppose the main problem I had with the recent cold snap related to the fact that it was keeping me from spending all of the quality time outdoors that I wished. The chill factor would drive me back inside prior to me getting my full outdoor buzz time and time again.
So, obviously, attempting to moderate temperatures by simply pretending it's springtime in the Wasatch doesn't have much science behind it. But whining, now that's another story. Somewhere, I believe, possibly within that aforementioned Second Law of Thermodynamics, there's a formula that states that whining causes friction which causes heat. Talk about alternative energy.
Actually, word has it that it's going to be warming up somewhat and snowing enough to keep the mountain valleys free of inversion. Bring it on! It works for me. I'm sure visions of Carnival and Mardi Gras and St. Patrick's Day will continue to dance in my head. I'm also sure I'll find something else to whine about.
Jay Meehan is a culture junkie and has been an observer, participant, and chronicler of the Park City and Wasatch County social scenes for more than 40 years.