Strange Spring

by Colin Adams (modified: 2007 Apr 15)

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).

  • Peter Gummer (17 years ago 16/4/2007)

    June is in Winter

    June is the start of winter where I live. And "fall" is what the leaves do in autumn, which is the season here right now.

    The Internet is a global community. Using the names of seasons to express dates is just confusing.

    • Colin Adams (17 years ago 16/4/2007)

      Say June, not Spring

      Precisly. Eiffel Software should refer to their next release as June 2007 or 2Q 2007. Not Spring 2007. Colin Adams

      • Paul Bates (17 years ago 18/4/2007)

        I think I need to clear this up a little. I don't think it's our intention to actually call them "Spring" and "Fall" releases at all. In fact other wiki pages that were authored around the same time actually use "Quarter" or Q (Language Road Map).

        The wiki page was changed the other day to reflect what was said about using spring and fall. It only was left in a state because it was the post-production of internal meetings here in Santa Barbara, where we were using the terms "Spring" and "Fall" in speak.

        In regards to the actual point of June not begin spring, admittedly spring should not have been used because, as you noted, spring has sprung. Again it was the post-production of a meeting to ensure that in the future we will have concrete releases in that time-frame.

        Please remember that it's the developers that are writing the wiki pages to let you know what is going on internally. Our openness is part of the Open Source strategy. We do our best to check what's written. Our developers are not PR agents so when stuff like this happens there no need for such digressiveness.

        • Peter Gummer (17 years ago 23/4/2007)

          Northern Hemisphere arrogance

          Well it looks like the Language Road Map has been edited to state explicitly that the southern hemisphere can get *****ed. Colin's blog appears to have been no digression.

          Be warned that, in protest, whenever there's an announcement to the effect of "version x.x will be released this Spring", I'll be sure to express my annoyance with a facetious reply such as, "What? It won't be released for another nine months?"

          • Paul Bates (17 years ago 24/4/2007)

            Just the Messenger, Don't Shoot!

            Peter, I can understand the annoyance. We actually discussed this in a meeting and the decision was made to keep Spring because Eiffel Software release it in Spring. Added to that, others in fact use the same convention when releasing - Mandriva Linux 2007 Spring Release. I'm not saying because other OS projects do it, we should. The final decision rested on sounding less bureaucratic, with the use of Quarter.