Celebrate the spring equinox and the beginning of boating season each March by burning those nasty winter socks. Above: CBM editor Jefferson Holland at a past Annapolis Oyster Roast & Sock Burning. Photo courtesy Visit Annapolis & Anne Arundel.

Ode to the Equinox

(In the mid-1970s, Capt. Bob Turner, who ran the Annapolis Yacht Yard on the Eastport side of the harbor, got tired of fixing other peoples’ boats all winter. His socks had absorbed the residue of every hull he’d been working on: splotches of bottom paint, fiberglass resin, metal shavings, teak stain. On one chilly day in March, out of desperation, he peeled off his socks, doused them with lighter fluid, and turned them into ashes while toasting the pyre with a swig from a long-neck bottle of Budweiser. Suddenly, the clouds parted, the sun appeared and, at long last, spring finally sprang. Now, half a century later, there are sock-burning celebrations in nearly every sailor’s port on the globe.) 

They build a little fire down along the docks,

They doff their shoes and they burn their winter socks.

Yes, they burn their socks at the equinox

You might think that’s peculiar, but I think it’s not,

See, they’re the same socks they put on last fall,

And they never took ‘em off to wash ‘em, not at all

So they burn their socks at the equinox

In a little ol’ fire burnin’ nice and hot,

Some think incineration is the only solution,

‘Cause washin’ ‘em contributes to the Chesapeake’s pollution

Through the spring and the summer and into the fall,

They go around not wearin’ any socks at all,

Just stinky bare feet stuck in old deck shoes

Whether out on the water or enjoyin’ a brew

So if you sail into the harbor on the 20th of March

And smell a smell like limburger mixed in with laundry starch,

You’ll know you’re downwind of the Eastport docks

Where they’re burning their socks for the equinox.