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March 20th, not 21st: Spring 2017 begins at 10:29 a.m.
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March 20th, not 21st: Spring 2017 begins at 10:29 a.m.

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Springtime nursery rhyme the longer the day, the sweeter the evening…
Gianni Rodari, Springtime nursery rhyme (part 1)

You thought that spring began on March 21st, right? Me too. In fact the official (astronomical) start of spring is related to the Earth's position relative to the sun. This year it begins on March 20 at 10:29 a.m., also known as spring equinox 2017. In 2018 it will start at 4:15 p.m., 2019 at 9:58 p.m. But always on the 20th.

Spring beginning on March 21st never actually happens. But this doesn’t have to do with the Earth: it’s our calendar that’s inaccurate - and then recovered, every four laps, with leap years. Really? Yes, actually. At any rate, the difference is negligible and it is important to get ready for the long days on the way. Here's some advice.

Ready for spring, overture: lights and covers

There’s something fresh about spring from when you were young. The poetry of Gianni Rodari comes to mind. In any case, this Sunday I had my first brunch on the terrace and then I read books, newspapers and online news and gossip outdoors, first on the chair in the sun, then under a blanket until past sunset. And these are our first two tips.

Do not put away the covers; keep them close by to enjoy the first few hours of relaxation in the sun and fresh air in the garden, on the balcony or on the terrace. When the hot summer rolls through, with thirty-five degrees at midnight, you'll think back on spring with nostalgia.

Although it is still chilly, start thinking about the lights you'd use to enjoy evenings outdoors. Not just the ones that light up food on the table and friends’ faces while chatting: think about a special atmosphere for your little evening escapes from the daily grind.

Ready for spring, duet: you and your aromatic plants

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…Tomorrow among the grassy patches maybe the first violets will shoot up. Oh fresh and new garden pansies luckiest is he who finds you, your scent will tell him, that spring has arrived, it’s here…
Gianni Rodari, Springtime nursery rhyme (part 2)

They say spring is the best time to make way for a small and exotic garden, even on the balcony. As a matter of fact, my rosemary is already blooming, unleashing my desire to cook. But for lovers of local ingredients, your green space can become a sort of pantry: sage, basil, chives, parsley, oregano, thyme... And mint for mojitos, too.

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And let’s not skip over plant upkeep, including exposure and irrigation. Do you have all the tools you need? And vases? Don’t overlook style, it’s nothing to pass on. A corner with two chairs and a small table surrounded by fragrant plants can take you on a mini exotic vacation.

Last idea: lemon grass, marigold and ageratum are plants that keep mosquitoes away and are easy to care for. Of course, a plant with two flowers and three leaves purchased in late July is good too, but if you act now you could probably do a little better.

Credits: Josh WilburneCredits: Josh Wilburne

Ready for spring, the grand finale: envious neighbours

The rhyme is almost over. Today I'll read it again while relaxing in the sun. Then I put the iPad on the table and as I went back inside I noticed my neighbour staring at the chair where I was sitting in a curious state. It was envy, I am sure, because he didn't even know what hit him.

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…The other men don't realize it And even in winter they believe: maybe they're moving forward, but their calendars are behind.
Gianni Rodari, Springtime nursery rhyme (part 3)

Gianni Rodari (born Giovanni, in 1920) was a writer, educator and journalist, but in Italy he is best remembered for being the poet loved by kids and adults alike. His works have been translated into many languages and the text fantasy Grammar. Introduction to the art of inventing stories made him one of the leading instructors on the subject. Even today he remains the only Italian to have won the prestigious Hans Christian Andersen Award.

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