Serendip is an independent site partnering with faculty at multiple colleges and universities around the world. Happy exploring!

Spring and/or the Cosmic Clock

marybellefrey's picture

Spring is clearly here, even in the Tropics of Guatemala. 

We have a 5-6 month (May to October) rainy season and a 6-7 month (October to May) dry season.  But in fact the dry season is two very distinct periods: a dry winter season with cold waves from the arctic and beginning about 1 March warm humid nights with increasing humidity and oppressive atmosphere until the rains break in May (a typical pre-monsoon season).  But Spring begins before any changes in the weather.  Spring everywhere begins before any change in the weather could seem to trigger it.

Every winter from my porch on the slopes of the Volcano Agua I watch the hills around the Antigua valley turn from brown to green.  I write 'green', but, just as in the rest of the world, Spring does not announce itself with green.  First there is a warming of the dull brown, then a clearly reddish tone which becomes pinkish and turns slowly more golden until a pale green mist takes over and becomes thicker before one can say the hills are turning green.  In the weeks this springtime activity is going on around me I continue wrapping myself in a warm blanket to contemplate the view from my porch, the temperature consistently between 6 and 10ºC (42 and 50º F), the sky the same clear, deep blue, the air dry and sparkling.

At the same time in my garden the amaryllis and clivias send up flower stalks from their dry beds, the jocote tree flowers and sets fruit on bare limbs, and the crepe-myrtles mirror the colors of the hills with new growth.  I raise many varieties of the Easter lily (Lilium longiflorum), a plant that is native to the Ryu-kyu Islands of Japan.  In its native islands it blooms in April and May, sets seed and dies down by July when the weather is hot and dry.  It is dormant during the remaining hot months but begins new growth in November, grows and sets buds through the cool, rainy months to flower again in April.  In my garden the Easter lily behaves exactly as it behaves in Japan as if it had a calendar.  But the weather here is almost exactly the opposite of what it experiences in its native islands: growing during the dry season and dormant during the rainy season when the soil is coolest.

Observing these things every spring I remember February when I lived in Maryland, USA.  Everyone there says that February is the hardest month of the winter.  And yet there are signs of Spring everywhere in February in Maryland.  In the garden winter aconites and snow-drops push up and bloom through the snow.  The clivias and hyacinths stored dry in the basement begin to send up their flower stalks.  And in the woods the red maple sap is flowing.  In fact if you want to make red-maple syrup, you have to tap your trees in the last days of January or very first days of February.  How many times I have forgotten until the 7th of February and found I was too late!

So Spring comes at its own time, whether in a garden or a basement or a wild area.  And some plants hear its call so strongly that they are indifferent to temperatures or rain.  Spring behaves like gravity, permeating and influencing everything.  It makes me think of the Cosmic Clock.  Do Mars and Venus and Andromeda also respond to Spring?