Wednesday, February 29, 2012
Hey everyone, it's February 29th, and that doesn't happen every year. So Happy Leap Day!
Some of you who follow the blog might recall that we like to do a holiday post now and then about the land use angles of the tradition-- like on Christmas, Thanksgiving, Halloween, Columbus Day, St. Patrick's Day, Veterans Day, Martin Luther King Day, and even Groundhog Day. Today is the first chance I've had since relaunching the blog in 2009 to consider Leap Day, so it's time to add Feb. 29 to the list. I must admit, however, that coming up with a land use angle for Feb. 29 looked like a bit of a challenge. But I take pride in my skill at the game my students call "What Can't Festa Turn into a Land Use Story," so here goes:
First, it's an Irish tradition (supposedly), going back to the times of St. Patrick and St. Bridget, that on the quadrennial occurrence of Leap Day, the women get to make marriage proposals to the men (the legend is probably the progenitor of Sadie Hawkins Day). In a traditional feudal society with a land-based economy and social structure, with primogeniture and entailments controlling the land, this social inversion could have a significant effect on how feudal power and family wealth get organized. If it ever actually happened, that is . . . I'm skeptical, but the legend seems to have enough purchase to back the 2010 Amy Adams movie Leap Year.
A second land use tie-in is related to the appellation "Leap" Day/Year. LEAP is also an acronym that stands for "Land-use Effects on Amphibian Populations." It's a multi-regional collaboration sponsored by the National Science Foundation. Academic research programs were established at Missouri, Maine, and South Carolina. And lest you think that I'm stretching here, many organizations today are using the occasion of Leap Day to celebrate Amphibians. Amphibian Ark has rolled out an international campaign for Leap Day:
To coincide with Leap Day (February 29th) 2012, Amphibian Ark is launching a new international event, Leaping Ahead of Extinction: A celebration of good news for amphibians in 2012.
The event’s been timed to coincide with Leap Day (29th February) 2012, and will promote the great successes in the conservation of amphibians in captivity and in the wild. The focus will be on institutions that are managing amphibian rescue or supplementation programs, recommended either during an AArk conservation needs assessment, or by national governments or field experts.
Once again, a special day with a land use angle! Kind wishes to our amphibian friends, especially if a princess proposes to one.
UPDATE: The "Leap Day" observance is broader than I had thought, and implicitly with the amphibian connection too-- I'm getting emails imploring me to take advantage of the Leap Day discounts from the excellent LeapFrog brand of learning toys that my son enjoys. You know you've arrived as an American holiday when businessess try to commemorate it by selling stuff. Like the old "life, liberty, and no money down!" type of sales promotions.
UPDATE 2: For yet another land use angle, DOT Secretary Ray LaHood tells us that we should "Leap Into Safety" today by investigating our states' pipeline profiles.