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Spring, sprang, sprung

Your Humble Blogger has lived in four very different places in the US, with four very different climates. Somehow, I forget that.

I grew up in the desert. Spring, in the Valley of the Sun, generally lasted six to eight hours, usually on a Tuesday, for some reason, and primarily functioned as a warning. Yes, the desert in bloom is breathtaking, and the discovery that Spring is happening (usually the first or second week in March) should signal all right-thinking Arizonans (and you’d be surprised how many there are) that it’s time to take the afternoon off, drive out into the desert, and enjoy the ocotillo, the prickly pear, and the ludicrous saguaro blossoms. And then make damn sure their air-conditioning works, and maybe play that last round or two of golf before closing yourself in for the summer. Actually, real desert rats (as I used to be) found that first batch of 90-degree March days invigorating, particularly back when you could go to Spring Training games for a couple of bucks.

In Ess Eff, Spring was a political matter. No, that’s a joke. In seriousness, Spring was a matter for the calendar, and for the events that came at that time. Spring meant the beginning of baseball season, of course, and there were various seasons (theatrical, musical, academic) that started or ended in April and May. Spring was not, though, a natural phenomenon; sure, some of the trees grew leaves, and there were different flowers blooming, but there was patchy ground fog, clearing by midday, with a high of 72, just like all the rest of the year. The sun was shining in the Mission, and on the other side of Bernal it was raining.

In Boston, Spring was wonderful, but it was a wonderful relief. The ground was muddy, which meant it wasn’t frozen. The big piles of ice finally melted. Each snow held the promise that it was the last. By the middle of April, you could decide to stay outside on a lunch hour, if you nursed a hot beverage. Winter, by that point, had been so long, and so cold, and so dark, that when Spring battled it back, you wanted to shout and sing with triumph. We made it! This round of crocus buds may not freeze!

Here, though, in the north of the South, Spring is a breathtaking panorama of color. Crape myrtles, magnolias, cherries, dogwood, redbud, and something that I think is a flowering pear, in addition to the daffodils, the azaleas, the Scotch broom, and all the rest of it. It’s got nothing to do with Winter, which wasn’t that bad, and it’s got nothing to do with Summer, which won’t be. It’s a thing in itself, a verdant extravaganza, wasteful and preposterous and aggressively beautiful.

Oh, I’m aware it’s got something to do with the fact that I’m out of the city, here; I drive along fields and the river, and there’s a lot more grass than concrete. Every street is lined with trees, not all because they are planted there either. I’m convinced, though, that if I were to spend Spring in Raleigh or DC, the effect would be similar (if dampened); Spring is different here.

No point, other than it’s a big, big country, different from one part to another, which I forget in my internetitude, and remember when the world reminds me.

chazak, chazak, v’nitchazek,



Is this your presumed pear tree? If so, it's a callery pear, and is a popular ornamental tree in the Triangle, too. It's got gorgeous fall foliage. It doesn't hold up well under ice storms.

Spring's about like that around here, too. Gorgeous and prolonged... The wisteria recently started blooming. Ahh!

I had to get a few days past our last snowfall (Tuesday evening) before replying, because I was so miffed by the flakes. (Can you miff someone? Athide from the obviouth, I mean.)

After a very hard winter in Boston, with double the average snowfall and nary a vacation elsewhere in sight, I've been thinking more about the challenges and rewards of trying to split the year between homes in different areas. I want to be in the Northeast for the fall, in CA for the winter, _____ for the spring, and Ithaca for the summer. You've helped fill in the blank.

You nicely capture the feeling of completed endurance that spring in Boston provides. The day-by-day search for new buds and the gradual reappearance and disappearance of fall remnants long buried under the snow. The enforced patience, the stretching of time, the resilience of nature and of hope are all a function of hard winters and slow springs. And I'm torn, because I enjoy this all of that but I'm ready for something easier.

And there's something bout the Southland in the springtime
Where the waters flow with confidence and reason
Though I miss her when I'm gone
It won't ever be too long
Till I'm home again to spend my favorite season
When God made me born a yankee he was teasin'
There's no place like home and none more pleasin'
Than the Southland in the springtime

-- emily saliers (indigo girls)

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