Sunday, March 28, 2010

Remembering Spring

I stuck my head out the window this morning and spring kissed me bang in the face.
-- Langston Hughes

I'm a spoiled Southern California "weather baby" for many years now. We are cushioned in beautiful weather most of the year. We gripe about our few rainstorms and a "cold wave" that plummets our temperatures into the 40s at night for a week or so. Never mind that the temperatures still soar during the daytime--we feel cold! So it's difficult for us to appreciate the power of spring's long-awaited debut in harsher climates.

I remember the first day of spring in the northeastern part of the country. Although the official first day of spring was last weekend, anyone who has lived through a cold winter can confirm that spring's actual arrival has nothing to do with the calendar.

The first day of spring can come early in March or well into April. In the wintry climates, spring's entrance is different each year. Yet everyone who is anxiously awaiting it knows exactly when it's arrived, regardless of the date.

Spring is the first day that the breezes blow warm, and the sun feels like it is hugging you through your clothing. It is the first day that rich, damp soil soaks up the sunshine and smells better than fresh-brewed coffee in the morning. It's the first day since before the snows fell that you will see children bursting upon the outdoors, riding bikes, skateboarding, running freely through their yards in tee shirts still creased from winter storage boxes. People throw open their windows, chat with neighbors over the fence, start churning up the garden and checking for green sprouts. Everyone laughs and lingers outdoors. Life seems new and miraculous again. The first day of spring is always pure magic.

I wouldn't want to go back east and trudge through a "real" winter again. But every year around this time, I remember that wondrous combination of joy, hope, and promise that can enfold you only after the endurance of a long, cold, grey winter. That golden feeling comes only one glorious day of the year--the first day of spring. As I recall, it's always worth the wait.

Photo from The Guardian, UK