Copyright © 2005 Henrietta W. Hay
Springtime in the Rockies
April 22, 2005
"When it's springtime in the Rockies." Or is it? Anyway it's a great song.
People spending their first year here think the weather is unusual. But we natives just smile quietly wen we wear shorts one day and down jackets the next. Actually we usually have only one day of Spring -- that one magic day between a snowstorm and an 90 degree day.
I found his out the hard way many years ago. My birthday was (and still is) in late April. Our question when I was a kid in Englewood was not whether it would snow, but how much. The year I got my roller skates it snowed 12 inches.
But we got used to the erratic weather and rather enjoy the anticipation. The only people around here who really worry about it are the fruit farmers.
Spring, spring, beautiful spring. It does bring out the best in most of us. It brings out romance in the young and a lighter step in all of us. And it brings out great bursts of inspiration to artists and musicians and poets.
In "The Rite of spring" Stravinsky put to beautiful music one of the many pagan ceremonies that mankind has used through the years to explain the changing seasons. In Fantasia Disney used the title and the music to depict in animation the creation of the world, complete with dinosaurs.
My favorite spring myth is the Greek story of Persephone. She was the beautiful daughter of Demeter, the Goddess of the harvest. She was abducted by Hades and carried away into the bowels of the earth.
Demeter vowed no harvest until she should see her daughter again. She finally accepted the Gods' proposal that Persephone should spend at least part of the year with her.
And so, according to one translation, Persephone spends the winter months below the ground, but when she comes back to her mother in the Spring, "the earth will bust into bloom with flocks of see-smelling flowers" and the fruit shall grow on the trees,"
Returning to the 21st Century, the dates of spring are simply a matter of custom, anyway. No formal governmental body ever declared that spring begins with the equinox and summer with the solstice. According to one climate researcher, "Although the sun-earth geometry is clearly the origin of the seasons on earth, it has nothing directly to do with temperature or weather." We knew that all the time! In England what they call spring runs from February through April.
Here in the Banana Belt we have our own myth. The natives claim that it is when the neck of the swan on the Grand Mesa is broken. I wonder what the Greeks would have done with that one. Of course, you have to be able to find the swan before you can know the state of its neck.
Lest you doubt the power of spring storms around here, the Guineas Book of World Records reports that the world record snowfall for a 24 hour period was 76 inches on April 14 and 15, 1921 at Silver Lake, Colorado - wherever that is. My friend the philosopher says that nobody knows where it is because it was buried under snow in 1921 and was never seen again.
The slogan of Colorado was once "'Tis a Privilege to Live in Colorado."
I think it is still true, especially in view of floods and tornadoes in other parts of the country. But the people in Denver might have wondered when the blizzard it a couple of weeks ago.
Meanwhile we can look forward to pruning the bushes and mowing the dirty lawn, cleaning our swamp coolers, getting out the fishing poles and betting on when the last snow will be. Oh yes, it will soon be Juco time.