I was born on the first full day of spring in 1952. I like that my birthday is celebrated with the arrival of my favorite time of year. The exact moment of the beginning of springtime, the vernal equinox, is when, from our perspective here on Earth, the sun is directly over the equator. Throughout the fall and winter the sun is shining vertically down onto the southern hemisphere. At the time of the vernal equinox it begins to shine directly down on the northern hemisphere. It appears to move farther north and closer to us until the summer solstice, when it starts heading back south. I like this season on the Islands for all of the signs of new life and the dormant living things reawakening. Other than early rising ticks, there are very few creatures out and about yet that want to bite you. This is the time when you can tell if you have enough firewood left to get through the chilly nights still to come. I’m almost completely certainly positive that there will be no ice in the harbor. Any snow from here on will melt by lunch time. You can work outside without gloves. Life will generally get easier.

Because my birthday is right at the vernal equinox, I learned the particulars of that event very early in life. Sometimes my birthday was right on the first day of spring and sometimes on the first whole day of spring. The date of the vernal equinox switches back and forth between the 20th and 21st for a variety of reasons. Some of the blame goes to our not-quite-perfect time keeping system. Some is caused by the wobble of the Earth. And some is caused by the steady change in the tilt of the Earth relative to the sun and everything else in the universe, called the precession of the equinoxes. Until 1978, the equinox occurred two years in a row on each of the two possible dates. Then, until 2007 it happened three times in a row on the earlier day and then once on my birthday. And the last time that the start of spring fell on my birthday it was by just seven minutes that it waited until the 21st. Since then it’s always on the 20th. So now my birthday is always on the first full day of spring. If I can hold on to dear life for another 27 years, starting in 2044 the equinox will start occurring occasionally on the 19th. On the 150th anniversary of my birth, the tilt of the Earth will again cause the first moment of spring to fall on the 21st. Some time I’ll bore you with the facts regarding another celestial anomaly about the North Star not really being very constant at all.

I am thoroughly enjoying turning 65. My automatic retirement from the fire department is a very pleasant relief. Next time something bursts into flame on Chappy, my only job will be to go down to the ferry to make sure that the fire trucks get across okay. In the past I made it my personal business to know the names of the owners of every house on Chappy just in case I had to go there in an emergency. Now I won’t be so nosey. Your privacy is safe with me. It’s not that I don’t continue to care about the wellbeing of my neighbors, it’s just that my focus will be on getting emergency equipment over to Chappy. Somebody else will have to find your house. Therefore I strongly recommend that your house number is easily visible both at the beginning of your driveway and at your front door. And for the thousandth time — cut back the brush along your driveway so that the ambulance can get through without losing mirrors and lights!

The Chappy Community Center spring egg hunt is on for Saturday April 15 starting at 3 p.m. My granddaughters will be hiding the eggs this year. So be forewarned, they appreciate a well-hidden egg.

Now is the time to sign up for summer activities at the CCC. Find all of the forms on the center’s website, chappycommunitycenter.org. July 4 may still be a quarter of a year away but it’s the quickest three months of the year around here.

Send Chappy news to peterchappyferry@gmail.com.