Leap Day

Leap Day has a peculiarly celebratory nature to it. Considering its infrequency – and the few people who happen to have a birthday on Leap Day – its attraction is not entirely without cause. Reputedly it is the one day (or some say the entire year) on which a woman may propose marriage to a man who, if he declines the offer, is bound to buy twelve pairs of gloves for the woman (in order that she might hide her ringless finger and shame from prying eyes). Wearing a red petticoat was presumably to give the beleaguered male ample warning and a chance to flee. A less stimulating tale is that the Salem Witch Trials began on February 29, 1692 when a slave, a beggar and an elderly woman were accused of witchcraft by a group of young girls.

In the Gregorian calendar, the standard calendar in most of the world, most years that are multiples of 4 are leap years. In each leap year, the month of February has 29 days instead of 28. Adding one extra day in the calendar every four years compensates for the fact that a period of 365 days is shorter than a tropical year by almost 6 hours. Some exceptions to this basic rule are required since the duration of a tropical year is slightly less than 365.25 days. The Gregorian reformmodified the Julian calendar’s scheme of leap years as follows:

Every year that is exactly divisible by four is a leap year, except for years that are exactly divisible by 100, but these centurial years are leap years if they are exactly divisible by 400. For example, the years 1700, 1800, and 1900 are not leap years, but the years 1600 and 2000 are.

February 29 is a date that usually occurs every four years, and is called the leap day. This day is added to the calendar in leap years as a corrective measure, because the Earth does not orbit the sun in precisely 365 days. It orbits the Sun 365 days and 6 hours.

Our contribution to the acknowledgement of this singular day was a corporate breakfast at the Blue Dolphin Café on Gulf of Mexico Drive. Our gaggle included our neighbours Bobbie and George and their son Danny (visiting his parents from New Orleans). The testimony of the success of our foregathering is that we were quite literally asked to leave!  Our server candidly advised that, as several of us lingered over drinks, a party of six was awaiting a table.  Though we quipped about the blunt treatment it was an indiscretion we were able to withstand.  After all it was a Saturday morning and all of us had other duties on our agenda.

After regaining our respective digs I launched as usual into my daily cycling routine which – because we had breakfasted so early – was commenced virtually on the routine schedule. The sun was shining brilliantly. I opted to visit Lido Key today in order to preserve my direct exposure to the rays. When I arrived at the beach there was only one other person soaking up the sunshine. The cool air and uncommonly high wind was keeping people away from the sea – at least initially.  There was moderate increase in beachgoers during the time I spent there.

I contented myself to stay near the sand dunes primarily because I had brought my bicycle with me instead of securing it in the parking lot. Though at first I maintained my sweater and Polo shirt on, it wasn’t long before I reduced my clothing to my bathing suit only.  The sun was warm.  The wind was lower than it had been several days ago.  The fine white sand was still being blown about me but less vigorously.

After almost two hours I headed back home.  When I arrived there I discovered my neighbour and Denis were chatting.  I was invited to join them.  What followed was a diverting hour of story swapping.  We could easily have prolonged the confab except that Bobbie had plans for the evening.