Sunday, March 20, 2005

La Primavera I

It's the first day of Spring today: Sunday, March 20, 2005.

Yesterday was the running of La Primavera, the annual Milan-San Remo bicycle race. "Official" Spring is here once again. Another Winter is behind us.

Astronomically speaking, Spring was already here, of course.

Groundhog/Candelmas Day (February 2) is considered to be a "cross-quarter day", i.e. equidistant from the Midwinter Solstice and the Vernal Equinox. Legal "Winter" begins on the former, and legal "Spring" starts on the latter. However, from the climatic point of view, what we call "Spring" began indeed on the cross-quarter day.

Other "cross-quarter" days are:

April 30: May Eve (Walpurgisnacht), the last day of Spring; the cross quarter day separating the Vernal Equinox from Midsummer Solstice.

August 1: First Harvest is the cross quarter day between Midsummer Solstice and Autumnal Equinox.

October 31: All Hallows' Eve; Hallowe'en, the last day of Fall, separates the Autumnal Equinox from Midwinter Solstice.

One can also scrutinize the seasons from a Shakespearean point of view: he titled his play A Midsummer Night's Dream, not The Beginning of Summer Dream. Midsummer Night ("the night in the middle of summer") is June 21. For him, summer didn't start on June 21: it had already begun on April 30.

Now, who won this year's Milan-San Remo, also known as la classicissima ? An Italian fellow named Alessandro Petacchi, apparently. I don't follow bicycle racing, Lance Armstrong notwithstanding. It's one of those sports that leaves far too much room for "arrangements", alas.

In my universe - that of an American expatriate in France - the race is simply a touchstone: an event which symbolizes what the French call le renouveau du printemps. The fact that the race is Italian ? Très logique ! Where better than the Riviera di Ponente (also known as La Riviera dei Fiori) to look for Springtime ?

Too, what better day than the first day of Spring to inaugurate a blog ?


Text © Copyright 2005 by L'Amerloque


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