At the speed of spring and seahorses

Spring leavesSpring travels north at about thirteen miles a day.

So wrote Diane Ackerman in her provocative book, “Cultivating Delight“. She figures this equates to 47.6 feet per minute or about 1.23 inches per second. When I read this, my first thought was at that rate, you could actually keep pace with Spring–meet up with it somewhere down south and walk with it.

But there’s disagreement about how fast Spring moves amongst those who know such things. According to an article Popular Science magazine published back in 1941, Spring progresses northwards at a more stately ten miles a day. And, not to put too fine a point on it, the author notes that when Spring hits a hill or mountain, it’ll ascend the slope at a rate of about 100 feet per day.

On the other hand, Hal Borland, author of Beyond Your Doorstep: A Handbook to the Country, thinks Spring hurries along at an impressive  sixteen miles per day.

If you have to put a speed on Spring, Diane Ackerman’s square-in-the-middle estimation seems as good as any. Thirteen miles per day (a 24-hour day) is roughly the equivalent speed of a galloping seahorse. Supposedly these critters can reach a top speed of half a mile an hour. (When you think about it, that’s not bad for a tiny seahorse.) For us folks with two legs and only molecules of air to push through, that’s a pace easily do-able. You could actually cover 13 miles while the sun was still up (barring the need for scaling a cliff or swimming a Great Lake), then set up camp and have a good sleep while Spring plodded on through the night to catch up with you.

But, I’ll sit tight. What these calculations prove is that some things really are so much better when you’ve had a good long wait for them.



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