I can’t help it. I love spring more each year as I get older. Maybe it’s an age thing because it hasn’t always been true.
When I was young I tossed spring off as much too obvious and easy to love. Give me winter any day, especially the unrelenting winter of New England where I grew up. Now there’s a season that gives a girl a challenge when it comes to love. Icy, blasting winds rattling through the shingles and the window panes all night long and constantly cold feet, cold noses and rasping sore throats from all the colds and bugs that stopped by to say hello were enough to keep me busy for months. Was I happy to see spring? Of course I was. But it was so….simple and expected; so traditional to celebrate spring. Going outside in winter and loving it meant you had to be tough to deal with all the snow and sleet; the slippery slopes of long cold nights with only the whistling wind to keep you company and I wanted to be tough.
The old folks around me always loved spring. I remember my great grandmother and my grandmother planting seeds, gathering dandelion heads for dandelion wine and making stewed rhubarb to chase the winter blahs away. They noted every new bird that came into the garden, each fresh sprout of new grass and the first blossoms of mayflowers and wild violets. I was young and could squander these early delights, even take them for granted. The first warm grass of the season squishing through pale white toes? Of course it was wonderful but to get excited about it? No way.
Now I am one of the old ones. I long for spring as the last winter winds practically rip my face off as I walk the beach at noon. I sigh as I pull on gloves and a scarf even though the calendar reads mid April and I wonder out loud if spring will ever come.
These days I prowl the landscape looking for signs of spring every day. I watch for the first buds of pussy willows and wait for the first swallows to arrive. I listen for spring peepers and watch the goldfinches change color. I count bluebirds and put oranges out for orioles. I can’t wait to see the first hummingbird or the first shorebirds passing through and I swoon with delight when the first tiny mayflower blooms show up through the winter dark leaves.
Those first leaves, those first birds returning from the south symbolize everything that is hopeful, new and fresh in the world. As I’ve gotten older spring means we have all survived another brutal year and we are here to sing, to build our nests, to put forth our blossoms just like all of nature or at least it feels that way.
The old folks I remember are long gone now but when I pick the first violets of spring and put them in a glass vase that used to belong to my grandmother I can hear their voices out in the back yard as they joyfully snapped the bright yellow heads off those dandelions and I can smell the wild strawberries simmering on the back of the stove that were destined to be jam.
Yes, winters are fine. Summers are wonderful and falls here in New England are more than special but give me the spring each year. Let me remember that spring does indeed always follow winter, that there is joy in each bird song and hope in each flower pushing through the earth. Spring does more than warms the air, the earth and the ocean around me. Spring also warms my heart.