Niagara Gazette

March 19, 2014

BRADBERRY: Desperately seeking signs of spring, PLEASE!

By Bill Bradberry
Niagara Gazette

Niagara Gazette — Finally, at this long winter’s end comes spring. But unlike Carl Sandburg’s fog, arriving silently “on little cat feet”, spring can “Come in like a lion and go out like a lamb”, so say some.

But, as the good folks over at the Farmer’s Almanac put it, “this saying seems be to more of a rhyme rather than a true weather predictor,” like some of the other familiar March weather lore we may have heard as we were growing up, remember?:

• A dry March and a wet May? Fill barns and bays with corn and hay.

• As it rains in March so it rains in June.

• March winds and April showers? Bring forth May flowers.

I guess there is a little bit of a weather forecaster in all of us, but in an effort to de-bunk some of the myth and lore that surrounds any discussion about the wildly changing weather, if not the climate, meteorologists offer a more measured explanation for the proverbial saying.

According to Southern Idaho weatherman, Brian Neudroff, “From a meteorological perspective, there’s little truth behind this saying, as many locations go from February into March with fierce and active winter weather. But by the end of March, the weather usually is warmer and more spring-like. The truth is, “in like a lion, out like a lamb” has more to do with astronomy than meteorology.

Neudroff claims “the old folklore has to do with the constellations of Leo the Lion and Aries the Ram (or lamb)”. Weather permitting, tonight, look above the western horizon and you’ll see the dim stars that make up Aries. Says Neudroff, “If you turn around and look east at almost the same height above the horizon, you will see the constellation Leo. Its stars form a sort of backwards question mark. So the Lion is rising in the east in early March, meaning the month is coming in “like a lion.”

By the end of the month, Leo will be almost overhead, while Aries the Ram (lamb) will be right on the western horizon, preparing to set. With the lamb setting in the west, the month is going out like a lamb.

So, this year, our first day of spring, or the vernal equinox, that is, when daylight and night are each approximately twelve hours long, is scheduled to arrive right on time tomorrow, March 20 at exactly 12:57 p.m. As the Sun crosses the equator heading northward, it will rise precisely due east and set exactly due west according to NASA.

Perhaps one of the most ominous signs that spring is in the air, is the number and the size of this year’s crop of potholes; this winter’s wrath is easier to see and feel once the plows have scraped away the season’s snow and ice that normally fill and smoothen the car wrecking crevasses.

But no doubt, one of the most welcome signs that the economic climate is changing for the better here is the blossoming of new construction.

We love the smell of fresh asphalt, the roar of the Pothole Killer in spring’s crisp morning air!

As the weather continues to improve, the city will begin to see more development activity and heavy construction than we have seen in decades here. And that includes the rational de-construction of dozens of buildings that no longer serve any useful purpose other than to be carefully disassembled whenever possible, and then re-purposed later while the once vacant lots can be put back into useful service and put back on the tax rolls where they belong.

What to see more signs? A short drive along the Military Road/Niagara Falls Boulevard corridor leading into the City reveals the multi-million dollar investments being made in our future as brand new retail businesses are beginning to bloom while major manufacturing projects like Greenpac and others on the horizon promise to produce more jobs than we have seen created in these parts in decades.

New economic development seeds planted in and around downtown Niagara Falls over the past few trying years are beginning to poke through this bitter earth too this spring, in spite of the hard ground and the long, long winter.

As the most recent study of poverty in our city demonstrates, we have a long, long way to go, but it is beginning to feel as though we may finally be actually moving in the right direction, FORWARD!

Still not completely convinced? Our good friends at the Cornell University Cooperative Extension are particularly glad to greet the arrival of spring, as their planting, growing and harvest seasons are right around the corner, reminding us that within a short distance from downtown Niagara Falls, “From spring’s first bedding plants to vegetables, berries, and tree fruit … from meats to dairy products, wine and Christmas trees, you’ll find these and much more produced right here in Niagara County.”

And they invite residents as well as tourists to help, “keep farms part of Niagara’s landscape by supporting them with your purchases. Niagara County is first among New York counties in peaches, sweet cherries and plum/prunes, second in tart cherries and pears and fifth in apple and berry production.”

Sure, there will be more snow, cold wind and winter-liker weather ahead, but, take time to look a little closer, spring really is all around you.

Contact Bill at bill.bradberry@yahoo.com