From Richard Drace, Board President
Many primitive cultures believed in a cyclical year. Rituals were vital to ensure that the new year started off strong. Those new years started in spring when plants and animals come out of hibernation, and all their new babies are getting born. And about those other rituals, which we now euphemistically call “spring fever” — here’s Molly Fisk’s advice in one of her KVMR radio monologues: “Hop to it!”
Western society used to start our year in March. But along came Julius Caesar who introduced the Julian calendar and moved the start of the year to January 1st. What’s the deal with that? I’ve heard the rationale that January is named after the god Janus, who is depicted as having two faces – one looking back and one looking forward – and that our present arrangement encourages both retrospection (such as “Why did I celebrate so much last night?”) and new resolutions (such as “I promise I’ll do better this year”). So in the deep mid-winter, when most everything and everyone in the natural world is dormant, we’re supposed to celebrate new beginnings?
For me, with a mid-March birthday, it feels like the new year (or as in my case this year, a new decade) starts in spring. My retrospection is at its max, and my resolutions – even a few achievable ones – are rampant. My little rituals help me get off to a strong start: My diet will be great, my exercise will be vigorous, and my outdoor adventures will increase. This year I’ve got more sun at my place – the drought and the beetles significantly reduced the shade from my pine trees. Maybe there’s enough light for a small garden?
Whether I plant or not, I’ll still partake of another of my favorite spring rituals: wandering around among all the racks of veggie starts in front of the Patch. What was that favorite tomato variety? Could I manage a plant or two? I can already taste the caprese with fresh mozzarella.
Do you have your own spring “new year” rituals? If you’re a gardener, the garden needs tilling, the seeds need planting, and maybe you’re loading up on veggie starts at the Patch. If you’re a cook, there’s a whole new abundance of seasonal fruits and veggies on their way. If you’re athletic, get out there and hike and bike and run and fish and smell the flowers. And about that spring fever thing?
Well, listen to Molly.