Monday, March 21, 2011

Spring Has Sprung

So if you live in the northern hemisphere, you probably know by now that Spring made its official arrival at 7:21 PM EDT last night. As your thoughts turned towards getting the short-sleeves out of the attic and tidying up the place, our friends in the southern hemisphere were contemplating getting their sweaters out of storage, and putting on a few pounds. And coincidentally, the night before was the biggest full moon we've had in these parts in almost 20 years. Yeah, it's called the "perigee" full moon, and the last time we had one that big was 1993. Did you see that thing? I was out for a drive - heading east as it came up - and I thought I was going to drive right into it. Then I thought it was a billboard of some type, like maybe for National Geographic or some such. I seriously gotta get my eyes checked.

Hey did you know that the term vernal equinox (the first day of spring) is Latin for "spring equal night"? Yeah, it is the point at which the sun passes directly over the equator, and it happens twice a year: one vernal, one autumnal. Now this has led to some confusion and misinterpretation. You probably have heard that on an equinox we experience equal amounts of night and day, i.e. twelve hours of each. And the Latin name certainly seems to suggest this. But it is not the case. In fact, the actual equinox - the point when the sun is directly over the equator - occurs only for a moment and not the whole day. And only someone standing directly on the equator would be able to observe it. But, why let physics spoil a good yarn?

One fable which should be debunked is this idea that you can stand an egg on its end on the equinox, due to some special atmospheric property associated with this day. Now, as I've already told you, the equinox occurs at one precise moment in time, and at the equator only. But even if that wasn't the case, what in the world would having the sun directly over the equator have to due with balancing and egg on its end? Why not a salmon or a watermelon, for that matter? The fact is, you can stand an egg on its end any old day of the year if you have enough patience and time to waste doing so. But doing it on the equinox is the only day of the year that will get you on TV or in the local paper, no matter how many times this myth is exposed. Oh well, I guess it is no stranger than eggs being sold as "dairy" at the supermarket.

So if you are looking to kick off your spring with a nice getaway, I have a few suggestions for you. How about the Washington, D.C., National Cherry Blossom Festival? Every year more than a million visitors come to D.C. to see the Yoshino cherry trees lining the Potomac tidal basin paint the city pink with their blossoms. And for three weeks (starting March 26th this year) there are parades, exhibits, music, food, and more. Like most of the attractions in D.C., the events are largely free. And since the trees themselves were a gift from the people of Japan back in 1912, this year's festival has taken on special meaning in light of recent events. The Red Cross and festival organizers have partnered to make this year's festival theme Stand With Japan, with numerous fund-raising events to benefit the Japan Earthquake and Pacific Tsunami fund. So you can get a little R&R and help a good cause. I suggest renting a timeshare at the Wyndham Old Town Alexandria in nearby Alexandria, VA.

Or how about World-Fest at the Silver Dollar City amusement park in Branson, MO? It's dubbed "America's largest international festival" by its promoters, and judging by the line up of performers and culinary offerings, that might just be the case. Every year, representatives from all over the world descend upon the Ozarks to show off their cultures with performances and regional food. The line-up includes a Russian circus, Canadian fiddle champions, Irish harpists, Indian dancers, and performers from just about every other corner of the globe. They've even got the only fiddling aerialist in the world. That's right, Janice Martin is a world-class violinist, pianist, and vocalist who also happens to be an accomplished aerialist. Rather than choose between the two career paths, she combined them. So while dangling from a wire 100 feet above the crowd, she belts out jigs, reels, and hornpipes for the delighted masses below. Are you kidding me?! I can't even walk and chew gum without banging into something. This year's festival is April 7 - May 8, and Branson timeshare rentals are available on

Finally, there is a festival that just passed in Nederland, CO, called Frozen Dead Guy Days, which you should really put on your calendar for next year. Started in 2002, this festival commemorates the frozen corpse of one Bredo Morstel. Who is Bredo Morstel you ask? Well, he was the grandfather of Trygve Bauge, a Norwegian citizen who moved to Nederland in 1989. For reasons not explained, Bauge brought the frozen body of his recently deceased grandfather with him upon his relocation to Colorado. Bauge intended to build a cryogenic facility on his property to store dear old grand dad, but instead overstayed his visa and was deported. Apparently INS doesn't get involved with deporting frozen corpses, so Morstel was stranded - and thawing - in Nederland. Well long story short, the town came together to fulfill Bauge's dream of having his grandfather permanently on ice in the U.S. - even while he himself was shipped back to Norway. Thus, a festival was born. Now a three day affair the second weekend in March, it features coffin races, a slow-motion parade, the "Frozen Dead Guy" lookalike contest, and a polar plunge. Now folks, just about any water in the area is frozen solid this time of year. So they chop a hole in the ice, and anyone stupid enough to jump in is cheered on by the assembled crowd. Seems like it won't be long before Frozen Dead Guy has some company in his slumber. Oh, I know what you are thinking, and the answer is yes: you do get to have a look at old Bredo if you come to the festival.


  1. We dragged our kids outside to watch the "Super Moon" as it was called on the news. Didn't look 14% bigger and 30% brighter to me! Guess we'll try again in another 20 years.

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