Rites of Spring

Here’s how Chesapeake Country welcomes the season

      This spring has an Alice in Wonderland quality, appearing briefly — then disappearing down windy tunnels so long we wonder if it will ever pop out again. As far as meteorological spring goes, March has been a bust, giving us none of the warm welcome of a January day in the 60s or a brief February heat wave.
      Now, real spring is upon us, as the vernal equinox turns March 20 into the most welcome of holidays. 
      Any signs your way? I asked calendar editor Kathy Knotts.
     Here’s what she had to say:
 
      Perhaps it’s the months of cabin fever that liberate Chesapeake Country’s state of mind when we catch that first faint whiff of spring.
     We hear the chirping of spring peepers, we share news of the first sighting of returning ospreys. And sometimes, we burn socks.
    Why are we so exuberant at the changing of the seasons?
    In many cultures, spring was the start of a new year. Spring, the vernal equinox, signified to our ancestors the resurrection of sunlight and the beginning of the growing season. Green is the color of spring, and not only in the garden and on the table.
      Much of the world goes green to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day March 17. Annapolis hosted its sixth and largest St. Patrick’s Day parade last weekend. Our friends at Killarney House, Galway Bay and Brian Boru are celebrating with authentic Irish food, live traditional music and dancing. There’s more dancing and dining at the dinner theater Irish Stew at the Creative and Performing Arts of South County March 16-18, when the National Ballet Company performs Memories of the Green.
      After all that dancing, you may want to keep hopping … down the bunny trail? It’s a rite of passage to load up our babies to see the Easter Bunny, appearing at both the Annapolis mall (thru March 31) or Homestead Gardens (March 24 and 25) or Greenstreet Gardens (March 24). 
      At Greenstreet Gardens March 24, you can join in another symbol of spring, the egg hunt. We love eggs in springtime for their metaphor for nature’s new beginnings. We adorn eggs with dyes and paints and buy up baskets and bouquets of flowers to brighten our moods. 
     Spring finds many reasons to party.
     It will be one shell of a party, the South River Federation promises of its 14th annual South River on the Half Shell live and silent auction March 24 at the Byzantium Center. Food is plentiful, including local oysters shucked by local watermen, and the Rob Levit Trio entertains. Bid on vacation trips, kayaks, artwork and other items to benefit the restoration work of SRF.
       Partying is the purpose of the annual Oyster Roast & Sock Burning March 24 at the Annapolis Maritime Museum. In a tradition dating back to the mid-1980s, Annapolitans relieve themselves of the necessities of winter (those nasty socks) as the Ode to the Equinox is recited. Then the party is on with live music, an oyster-shucking contest and, of course, plenty to eat.
      Spring brings the traditional end of oyster season, so farewell feasts are frequent. Joining the spring oyster roast tradition is the Deale Volunteer Fire Department, also March 24. This culinary celebration serves oysters raw, steamed, fried and stewed plus games of chance.
     Spring means a release of all that held us down in winter and a time to freshen things up.
–Kathy Knotts
 
        Our stories this week flow in that same stream, bringing you indoor and outdoor approaches to the slow-arriving season. Soon as this wind blows itself away I’m following Mark Hendricks into the woods to seek signs of the season in wildflowers. I’ve found pink lady slippers before; perhaps again. While I wait for a warm spring day, I’ll get out my beeswax and kitska and draw pysanky, for I’m envious of what writer Diana Dinsick tells us she has achieved in this week’s story — and I still have my kit from my last year’s class with pysanky artist Coreen Weilminster.
      (Find an easier approach to coloring eggs with wax work in Clara Gouin’s article last year: www.bayweekly.com/articles/features/article/coloring-eggs).
      I hope you’ll find warmth in the dawning season and in freshening your traditions of celebration, whether Passover, Easter or equinox.