Is winter too long?

Let's change the calendar so winter is shorter and summer is longer.

I'm not a winter person. Mainly because I don't like cold weather very much. This is a problem if you live in New England, which I do. Some years we shiver from Thanksgiving to Easter -- temperatures in the teens and below for weeks on end. Other years we have lots and lots of snow. This year we got both.

I don't mean to sound like a baby -- I realize I'm whining -- but this doesn't make me very happy. I know I should get over it -- or move. But complaining is more fun. Honest. I take some kind of perverse pleasure in griping about the wind chill factor being -6 F. (Think of that as -21 C, and you feel chilled to the bone.)

I finally found out what the problem is: It's not me and it's not Massachusetts. I discovered the answer in a BBC Gardeners' World blog by Joe Swift, who also isn't one of winter's biggest boosters.

The answer: Winter should be shorter, Joe says: The time between Christmas and spring "is just too bloomin' long."

Think of that -- a quarter of the entire year cold and dreary outdoors. (Well, not everywhere, I'll admit, but certainly in London and Boston.)

And who do we blame for that? Early calendars were developed by the Egyptians, the Mayans, the Romans. We now go by the Gregorian calendar, which was devised by a doctor living in Italy's boot. You notice that those are all places with warm climates. Those people didn't care how long winter lasted because they didn't have don snow boots and a down parka to bring the morning newspaper back in the house.

I like the idea that in the Egyptian calendar, Feb. 21-June 21 was summer. Think of it -- February and March weren't months to be suffered through, but summer! Warm temperatures, lots of sunshine, plants growing and blooming. Ah, what a delight!

I'd like to start a petition to return to that definition of summer and add June 22-Sept. 22 to it. (When you're dreaming, dream big, I always say.)

Who would I petition? Congress, I guess. Our elected representatives in Washington have recently given us a much extended Daylight Saving Time. Why couldn't they just declare summer to be about half the year? Think of the heating bills it would lower! Think of the veggies we could all grow to help our food budgets!

Yes, I realize that calling February summer doesn't necessarily make it warmer (unless you live Down Under). But I'll leave that up to our Congresspeople to solve. After all, we elect them to find solutions to difficult problems. And this winter has certainly been difficult.

(Note: We invite you to visit the main page of the Monitor’s gardening site , where you can find many articles, essays, and blog posts on various garden topics.)

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