Today is the first Sunday of spring. Somewhere spring is in the air and that joyous feeling of the warm southerly breeze caressing one restores one’s spirit. Alas, on Cape Cod the calendar lies – we have to wait until Memorial Day for spring to come with its smiling face and before we can get too used to it summer with its heat pushes it away.
Did you ever wonder why spring, summer, fall, autumn or winter are not capitalized? I always thought that they should be. I guess you could say I did not learn my English grammar too well for I am sure within one of my lessons it would have explained the reason why days and months are capitalized but grouping them together is not.
Did you ever wonder why we have four seasons? Some countries where it is hot or cold all the time only have one. Others have two. Then there are places like Cape Cod that really needed only to have three of different lengths with winter being the longest. I used t o tell myself “if winter is here can spring be far behind.” That offered me hope that the cold would end at some not too distant date so I would not get so down. For some reason when I chanted that this year it offered little succor. The answer always came back telling me it was far, far off. Maybe that had something to do with the Covid-19 pandemic. Or, perhaps more likely aging when cold seems to strike with greater fury.
Does anyone use the word autumn anymore? Where does that word come from. Some suggest the Latin autumnus but that’s like saying the word Boston comes from the Latin Bostonus. It seems no one knows. Prior to the word autumn being adopted in the English language the season was known by the prosaic “harvest” which seemed most appropriate.
Here’s an interesting article that speaks to all the seasons as it attempts to explain why we have two names for the season after summer: fall and autumn. It leans to the idea that fall is the American term while autumn is more British. I have a more simple explanation. Having just gone through a changing of the clocks the only way I knew what to do with the hour was to think of the rhyme “spring ahead and fall behind.” I move the hour hand ahead in spring and back in fall.
Now imagine the confusion one would have if the saying were: “spring ahead and autumn behind.” I’d suggest the Americanisation of the word wins out. Plus, who ever thinks of the word autumn when the leaves start to fall and the plants wither. As for spring how appropriate is it when we see the crocus spring up adding the first touches of color to the drabness of winter.
Unlike last year when we faced an uncertain future as Covid stalked the land this spring we can look forward with hope. Yes, Virginia, there will be a time when we can shed our masks. But not quite yet. Let us stick to them and the distancing for a bit longer. We are almost to the finish line but have not crossed it yet.