Spring Has Sprung!
By Dale Mayo
The first day of Spring this year was Saturday, March 20th at 5:37 am EDT (for people living in the Northern Hemisphere). Daylight hours have increased since the winter solstice until, on the equinox, the tilt of the earth is zero relative to the sun, and the northern and southern hemispheres receive almost equal amounts of daylight.,  For people who crave sunlight, this is a time to celebrate, as it marks the point after which days get longer than nights up until the summer solstice.
Astronomical seasons vary between 89 and 93 days because of the elliptical shape of the earth’s orbit. Because this discrepancy would make it difficult to compare climatological data over the years, meteorological seasons were determined. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, meteorological seasons are based on the annual temperature cycle. The first day of meteorological spring was March 1st, representing the transition season from the coldest three months to the warmest three months of the year.
How quickly warm weather reaches you depends on many variables – including where you are in the country (Colorado is still expecting substantial snow accumulation), your elevation, the effects of the jet stream and Gulf Stream, etc. March is notoriously variable, hence the “in like a lion, out like a lamb,” however, April is upon us and spring is here!
Spring 2021 is different
Spring is a time of rebirth and renewal celebrated around the world from the start of history (see this National Geographic article for pictures of spring festivals from around the world), but spring is especially welcome this year. We have been cooped up inside during the cold winter months avoiding gatherings, not dining out, staying away from family and friends. After a year of pandemic and all of its negative effects, Covid -19 cases appear to be leveling off, more and more people are being vaccinated, and mandated restrictions are finally, gradually being modified or lifted altogether. AARP has a current list of Covid restrictions by state.
While we’re still advised to wear masks and socially distance even after being fully vaccinated (see current CDC guidelines here), warmer weather will free us from the confines of our homes. We’ll be able to get together outdoors for picnics, barbecues, clam bakes, and grilling parties. Lots of other outdoor activities (soccer, tennis, lacrosse, swimming) will be back on the schedule. Children are going back to actual schools in many states, though not in the usual way (e.g., sitting at a specified distance from one another, not going every day, still taking classes online). Working from home may not disappear when offices start to open again – many people may continue work from home one or more days per week, depending on the type of job.
Spring in the garden
Spring is an active time in the garden – for both vegetables and flowers. This is the time to start planting seeds – some can be started outdoors and some can be started indoors to be transplanted when the ground gets warm enough and the danger of frost has passed. Consult the directions on your seed packages and also the US Department of Agriculture’s plant hardiness zone website to find out what plants do well in your region and when you can start seeds outside. There are also a number of websites where you can find or enter your location and find out when to plant vegetables (e.g., The National Gardening Association, Urban Farmer, The Old Farmer’s Almanac, and Mother Earth News which offers several useful links).
Early spring flowers and flowering trees are starting to bloom. Planning and planting can take place in spring and/or fall and now is a time to be thinking about what you want to start or change in your garden. You may want to learn more about the native plants in your area and add some to your yard with the idea of a more sustainable landscape (North American Native Plant Society, American Horticultural Society, links to states’ Native Plant Societies). Native plants provide sustenance for bees, butterflies, other insects, birds, and local wildlife and requires less watering and fertilizing than non-native plants (AHS). Decreased use of synthetic fertilizers, pesticides and weed killers means cleaner drinking water and less runoff into local rivers and other bodies of water (The Healthy Yard Project, Environmental Protection Agency). Some urban groups are trying to turn hardscapes into green zones (Chesapeake Bay Program).
Woodland flowers in northern Virginia.
Vernal pools – ephemeral habitats
Spring brings the forests and meadows to life each year. In addition to bringing back the leaves and flowers and coaxing hibernating animals out of their winter homes, the warmth of spring brings rain and snowmelt to natural depressions in the woods that range in size from a puddle to a small lake. Ponds that fill in spring and disappear in the heat of summer are found across the country usually on sloping ground – from the West Coast through the Midwest and Northeast. These pools provide a breeding spot for amphibians (wood frogs, spotted salamanders) and some crustaceans (fairy shrimp). Other creatures also make use of the pools (e.g., turtles, birds, snakes, and raccoons). Some plants also rely on vernal pools. The plants and animal species that rely on these pools are often able to survive in years of drought when they don’t fill., 
Fish, however, cannot survive in vernal pools.
Cooking out with seafood
In case you’re ready to try your hand at cooking seafood on the grill, Sizzlefish.com offers a variety of seafood options and also cedar planks for grilling. While almost all of our seafood is grill-friendly, seafood that is especially easy to cook on the grill includes lobster tails, tuna steaks, sablefish, halibut, scallops, shrimp, and king salmon.
You can trust us to supply you with pure natural fish portions, with tools and tips for quick easy preparation, and with honest information about the benefits you are receiving from Sizzlefish products.
 Schneck, M. (2021). When is the first day of spring? Pennlive.com, March 1, 2021. https://www.pennlive.com/life/2021/03/when-is-the-first-day-of-spring.html
 Drake, N. (2018). Vernal Equinox 2018: Facts about the first day of spring. National Geographic, March 20, 2018. https://www.nationalgeographic.com/science/article/what-is-vernal-equinox-spring-sun-moon-earth-science
 Langley, L. (2019) Like magic, these habitats disappear and reappear each spring. National Geographic, March 20, 2019. https://www.nationalgeographic.com/animals/article/magic-spring-vernal-pools-equinox