Trending: Spring

I’m writing this from my porch, trying to decide whether to declare, oracularly, that Porch Season has begun. This is among my most solemn duties. I have a sense of the world turning to me expectantly, trying to read my body language, like they do with Putin. I’m a humble person, as you know, but take seriously my role as a porching expert and all-purpose keeper of the cultural calendar.

The contra-indicator here is the temperature, which an objective observer, disinterested, unbiased and agendaless, might well describe as “chilly.” The burst of late-afternoon sun came too late to blow away the deep chill of a long winter, at least on my back porch. It’s as though the soil in the back yard is radiating cold. The porch furniture is cold, and the railing, and the vintage Coleman cooler that my friend John Menditto (Happy 50th!) left here. Winter remains embedded in the environment.

And yet …

And yet it’s time. Porch Season usually begins during the second week of March in these parts. It started on this very day in 2006. And again in 2010. You surely recall the anomalous Porch Season of 2007. My strong suspicion is that we will eventually start seeing porching beginning in February, but for now it’s still a March phenomenon. Looking at the CWG forecast, we see a high tomorrow of 67 degrees, which is practically pina colada weather.

And there is something other than cold lurking in the ground: Life itself. You can sense the Earth waiting to explode with new life. It’s a Life Volcano waiting to erupt.

Already there are green shoots from the bulbs in the flower beds. Opportunistic weeds are popping up in the lawn. The air is noisy with the flutterings of feathered dinosaurs, tweeting and retweeting that spring is nigh. The early onset of Daylight Saving Time coincides with a higher arc of the sun and a long, lingering late-afternoon illumination of the treetops. Suddenly an ordinary pine tree has movie-star looks.

What is remarkable about the Earth is not merely that it has life, but that it has so much of it, in so many bewildering forms, with countless species yet to be named, all governed from below by bacteria. Life can bend a world to its will. Life is, in the words of David Grinspoon, “a planet-altering beast.”

Yes, it’s a bit chilly, and perhaps it would be wise to switch to long pants. But gosh, after this winter, I’m ready to porch up a storm. Let’s get this show on the road!

Joel Achenbach writes on science and politics for the Post's national desk and on the "Achenblog."

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Joel Achenbach · March 5, 2014