Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Winter Wears Out Its Welcome


Why do people typically become frustrated and put out when winter conditions linger into spring, but when summer-like conditions persist into late fall, we welcome them?

This current snowstorm, for instance, coming on the last day of winter, seems terribly out of place, as does the below-normal temperatures of the past week. And to think, I planted lettuce and radishes in the in-ground-beds inside my greenhouse and now, the soil has frozen solid. I’ll have to replant when it finally warms up.

“Hope deferred makes the heart sad.” That’s what a famous proverb says. And boy, have we seen hope deferred. To think, that one year ago we here in Maine were reveling in temperatures in the mid-70s. And today we have snow, wind and temperatures in the teens.

I just read a statement from a weather guru with the National Weather Service. He said that this could possibly be the last big snowstorm of the season, but not to count on it. The same conditions that have prevailed for most of the winter continue, with no big change in sight.

In another instance of hope deferred, amateur astronomers throughout the northeast were handed a very attractive carrot, only to have it snatched away at the last minute. That carrot was Comet PanSTARRS. The comet was to be a naked-eye object low in the west beginning around March 8 and lingering until around March 18.

Like so many others, I had my viewing place all lined up ahead of time. It’s hard to find an unobstructed view to the west, what with all the trees. But a nearby farm on a hill provided just the perfect location. And the farm family happily gave me permission to come and watch the comet. They even came out and watched with me. But we saw no comet, only clouds.

I made multiple trips to the hill, only to find low-lying clouds covering the spot where the comet supposedly sat. And now, according to what I read, the comet has risen higher but dropped in magnitude, meaning that finding it will come much harder and will require a telescope. Hops of seeing it with the naked eye or in binoculars were dashed. And this particular comet will never visit our region again. It was just one of those things. Hope deferred.

Warm weather will return and so will clear skies. Ice will melt, snow will stop falling and flowers will bloom and fish will bite. But for now, that all seems so far away. But we have no alternative than to wait, with patience. 

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