Carpe season! Declare your rights of spring

Google the phrase “Rites of Spring” and what comes up mostly reeks of earnestness and elbow grease: Cleaning out closets, changing smoke alarm batteries, visiting the allergist to prepare for the coming pollen-ocalypse. ...

It might seem like it was only yesterday that we were running our air conditioners nonstop. That’s an exaggeration, of course.

It was only yesterday that we were hiding under our beds for a week because — gasp! — it snowed 3 inches!

Admittedly, it’s been a rough 10 months around here. That’s why spring, which officially begins Sunday, can’t come fast enough or stay around long enough. Literally on that last part. So let’s make the most of it by replacing those dull old rites with our own Rights of Spring.

The right to jump-start the season: Spring doesn’t officially arrive until the stroke of 7:21 p.m. Sunday, aka the vernal equinox. That invariably happens March 20 or 21, but only because Pope Gregory XIII standardized the calendar in 1582. Before that, the equinox used to move back a full calendar day every 128 years. In 1500, spring actually started on March 11! By that measure, we’re already way behind, so break out the board shorts and start spring as soon as you get up this morning. The weather here should be sunny and in the high 60s for much of this week.

The right to ignore spring cleaning: From morning TV advice segments to nagging phone calls from Mom, it’s almost impossible to avoid the guilt-tripping about this. If it’s not Martha Stewart Living sending out an e-mail blast containing 13 Spring Cleaning Basics (“Basic” No. 2: How to dust your light bulbs), it’s “The Biggest Loser” nutritionist offering “helpful” health spring cleaning tips involving ridding your refrigerator of “forbidden foods” in favor of fruits and vegetables. Here’s a better idea: Toss all such tips (hmm, maybe you do believe in spring cleaning) and head to Rita’s for a free “First Day of Spring” regular size Italian ice between noon and 9 p.m. today (to find the nearest metro Atlanta location, turn on your computer under the nearest dusty light bulb and go to

The right to play the great Atlanta pastime: There’s no better time than early spring to remember why this is such a wonderful place to live — mostly because there’s no such thing as middle or late spring here. Last year, the first 80-plus degree day hit here on, we kid you not, April Fool’s Day. Thirty more followed until, on May 23rd, we were “enjoying” our first 90-degree day. Then metro Atlanta was off on a torrid stretch of 86 days of 90 or above in a little under four months. is a treasure trove of this sort of historical data (

With the Boys of Summer (aka the Braves) in spring training, why not follow suit and start organizing a Rotisserie Weather league here? Hint: Last year’s MVP was July, when the high here was 101 degrees. And August was the hottest month overall (25 days of 90 or above), so try and get as many of those days on your team.

The right to prolong the season: First day of spring already got you thinking about taking a vacation? That’s fine, just so long as it’s to South Africa, Australia or New Zealand. And you plan to arrive Sept. 1.

In those three countries near the bottom of the world, that’s the first day of spring.