By Kathy Catrambone
March 21 is a nice enough day, as far as this year's 366 go.
It used to be known as the first day of spring. But due to some scientific mumbo jumbo, spring's official arrival date has changed. The Farmer’s Almanac explains that the earth’s elliptical orbit is changing its orientation, which causes the earth’s axis to constantly point in a different direction. Since the seasons are defined as beginning at strict 90-degree intervals, these positional changes affect the time the earth reaches each 90-degree location in its orbit around the sun. The pull of gravity from the other planets also affects the earth's orbit.
Bottom line: Spring 2012 arrived at 2:14 a.m. CDT March 20.
But you can still say March 21 is the first full day of spring.
It also is the birth date for a diverse group of famous people including Johann Sebastian Bach, Matthew (Ferris Bueller) Broderick, Florenz Ziegfeld, and, not-so-famously, me.
Last year’s March 21 was a cause of celebration: Dinner with my cousins at an upscale Italian restaurant in Chicago; an all-expenses-paid trip to New York, compliments of my Manhattan-dwelling brother; and tickets to the Paul McCartney concert at Wrigley Field from the rest of my family. All in all, that was a pretty spectacular way to mark my 60th.
So today, I am 61. A milestone of import to no one other than myself. No fanfare today. No dinner. No trip to the Big Apple. No Paul McCartney. I am marking the day in a peculiar way: lamenting the loss of two of my favorite products, and being fearful about the future of a third. I guess in this fast-changing world, it is easy to outlive products. There's not much demand these days for manual typewriters, skate keys or transistor radios.
I have been collecting a Christmas dishware pattern since 1986. Over the years, I have accumulated 92 pieces—mugs, cake plates, round-, square-, rectangle- and oval-shaped serving pieces, water pitcher, cookie jar, matching salt-and-pepper shakers. It made a convenient Christmas gift idea for my family and friends. A couple of months ago, I received a chilling email announcing that the pattern will no longer be manufactured, urging fans to get the remaining pieces while the getting is good.
A favorite fragrance of mine was recently discontinued. It provided a pleasant smell at a reasonable price. It had been around only since 2002, so imagine my surprise when I tried to purchase some and was told it is no longer being made. I really liked it. Not heavy or musky or flowery or we-just-walked-in-the-rain-y. Now what am I to do? I may have return to the way I smelled before 2002.
But the news that really sent shivers down my spine: Hostess filed for bankruptcy in January. The future of Twinkies, Ho Hos and my favorite—CupCakes—is threatened. I have grown up with those two sweet little cakes, packaged just for me. I would save my 25-cent allowance to buy a package, enjoy it and not feel guilty that it was one thing I did not share with my four younger siblings.
Hostess, which survived the Great Depression, finds itself in trouble for reasons other companies now say they are in trouble: Its current cost structure "is not competitive, primarily due to legacy pension and medical benefit obligations and restrictive work rules." With all the Hostess CupCakes I have consumed, I think I could have helped the company’s cash flow. The company will continue to produce its goodies while it is in bankruptcy court.
What life-lesson have I learned today that will help me reach my 62nd March 21?
Carpe diem and carpe all the Hostess CupCakes that I can.