I was rather surprised to learn that from now on EiffelStudio will have a regular release schedule of twice a year (that bit is not too surprising, and it is certainly very welcome), and that the two releases will be called Spring and Fall (even that bit isn't surprising - the phrase American English is, of course, an oxymoron), to be released in June and November.
June is in the spring??!
First I heard of it!
I made a remark about this on the Eiffel Software Wiki page concerned, and was referred to the Wikipedia, which had some very odd stuff. Apparently people think that summer begins on mid-summer-day (21st June). And spring is supposed to begin in the middle of spring (21st March). An odd notion of mid. Poor southern-hemisphere dwellers must be feeling put on again, but no doubt they are used to it by now.
It is true that the botanical seasons do not coincide with the astronomical divisions. Especially here in England, being surrounded by sea, there is a long delay. But it is not half-a-season.
Anyway, these days, with global warming having moved spring earlier than ever, it seems to me we should stick with traditional notions; and being English, I refer to English traditions.
In Preston folk club, when May 1st comes around (or the nearest Friday to it, or both nearest Fridays, since we are very liberal in our treatment of traditions), we sing the traditional Padstow (in Cornwall - they sing the song for the whole 24-hours of Mayday) song whose chorus includes the line:
"For the summer is a-coming today"
That is, summer starts some time in May (NEVER in June).
And the old tradition that the birds choose their mates on St. Valentines Day (that's where all this nonsense comes from of having to enrich the greetings cards industry every February) seems as good a definition for the start of spring as I know. Certainly it fits well with what I observe here in Preston.
Actually, my preferred definition of spring is "the time when the Chaffinch sings". This year, St. Valentine's day fell on a Wednesday, so when I arrived back in Preston from my weekly stint of slaving over a hot EiffelStudio in London, and went out walking, it was 16th February. The first thing I heard, to my delight, was a Chaffinch singing. The rest of the day I continued to hear them, and they certainly weren't singing on the previous Sunday.
Well, that's half the proof. I will let you know the last day I hear them singing.
But if you need more evidence, today, at 12:00 (1 hour before noon, since we have this stupid system here called daylight stealing time), I telephoned my natural history mentor, Dr. Phil Smith MBE. The weekend before I had told him of my fruitless search for the first Large Red Damselflies of the year. He said he didn't expect to see any until the end of the month, but I was not deterred - I had already noted how very much earlier spring was this year, even compared to recent years, and what a warm March and April we have been having (probably another all-time record will be broken - last year both July and September were the hottest on record). So today, when I phoned him, I was able to tell him I had seen 3 tenerals (fresh adults, not yet matured) of Pyrrhosoma Nymphula - the Large Red Damselfly. He congratulated me on being the first in Lancashire to see any this year, and confessed he was surprised. Of course, if I had thought that spring would last into June, I would never have persisted with the search. (I went back in the afternoon, and found another 4).