How to be woke

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The Urban Dictionary defines “woke” as being aware of racial and social justice. Its meaning has more recently expanded to include every aspect of our lives.

Getting woke is like being in the Matrix movie and choosing the red pill. You suddenly understand what's really going on.

What woke me was last week's confluence of ridiculously warm Arctic temps, summer birds arriving on Cape Cod well ahead of schedule, and the life-threatening impact of a serious winter storm.

Ernest Hemingway captured the disappointment of delayed spring when he wrote in A Moveable Feast about 1920s Paris: “Sometimes the heavy cold rains would beat it back so that it would seem that it would never come and that you were losing a season out of your life.”

The anomalies of seasonal weather parallel the cycles of our lives.

It’s when we fear we’re “losing a season” to some setback that we need to stay woke to the positive reality of the moment and the promise of future days that will be “agreeable and warm.”

The reality of this early March moment? For one thing, it's sap-tapping time.

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Sap typically runs up maple trees on days when the temperature is about 40 degrees, following a night when the mercury has dipped below freezing. This is the time of the last full moon of winter, which various peoples have called the Sugar Moon, Worm Moon, Sap Moon, or Lenten Moon.

Maple trees are not alone among nature’s creatures whose sap rises with approaching spring.

Lord Tennyson made the keen observation that, “In the Spring a young man's fancy lightly turns to thoughts of love.”

But it took a 1990 German study to empirically demonstrate the British poet’s romantic notion.

Published in the Journal of Reproductive Rhythms, the report declared that the perfect time of year for humans to conceive is when the sun shines for about twelve hours and the temperature hovers between fifty and seventy degrees.

“The sort of day when you have nice nights and days that are agreeable and warm,” said the author.

So stay woke to March 21 and the arrival of spring with its “agreeable and warm days.” Until then, there are waffles to be had—awash with maple syrup.

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If you enjoyed reading this, you will like my newest book, Saints and Poets, Maybe: One Hundred Wanderings, available at Amazon.


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  • John Salonich
    commented 2018-03-05 10:57:29 -0500
    Wasn’t familiar that “woke” had a racial and social connotation. Ironically, last Tuesday was 50 degrees on the slopes of Pat’s Peak here in south central NH, but right down the road from the ski slope was the Intervale Pancake House with locally harvested maple syrup, then came the Nor’easter reminding us that it is still winter.
  • William J McKay
    commented 2018-03-03 08:43:14 -0500
    I have plenty to say about this interesting blog entry AND some photos from skiing / New Hampshire last week. Alas, I feel the need to head to the kitchen and beg Moe to mix me up some goop that will become 4 fat waffles… then shuffle through the cabinets to find some syrup OTHER than Mrs. Butterworth’s. THANK YOU!!!!! Write you later. Bill