Why Am I So Mean to Spring?
So spring has really started to hit its stride. In my northern California neck of the woods, magnificently so. A drought busting winter has yielded green meadows dotted with wildflowers and as they’re mowed down, a cologne of chlorophyll hangs in the warm air. Dogwood trees and wild daffodils are bursting. Forests are filling out, the dark green evergreens now smattered with dry brush strokes of budding hardwoods. Rivers are churning with rapids. Neighbors are cracking the seal on their front windows and beers on their porches. Winter’s produce is still in season up in the sun soaked mountains, corn most of all. In the third act of winter, when survival seems least likely, spring delivers, accompanied by an orchestra of songbirds.
So why am I so mean to poor old spring?
It started as a kid growing up in New England. Spring wasn’t bad. The end of winter is bad, so it’s strange to care so little for something that does so much for you each year. In that sense, spring is like an aunt or uncle that lives far away and whose visits are very brief. They might be great at sending presents like thaw and evening sunlight but you just don’t know them that well. Spring in New England is approximately four weeks long.
In that time there is slush, mud and at the tail end, swarms of bugs. There’s also spring skiing, arguably the best kind of skiing there is, despite the bittersweet shredding over grass gaps and log jams into summer. There’s bike rides, on pavement and gravel if not singletrack, but you’re out there.
Then I moved to Southern California where you would never know there was a season between winter and summer if not for jacaranda trees raining purple petals on the city for a month.
Spring suffers from my bad habit of comparing everything. I’m sorry but summer, autumn and winter are incalculably better than spring. Spring is a cold summer, a wet fall and a nagging parent telling winter to come inside.
But spring is incredible and gives so much. My best memories of high school are hiking the park with a crew of friends on bright warm days, gloves and boots sopping wet, putting down the best tricks of the year. These days, it’s the season to take slush runs with my wife and drink IPAs on the mid-mountain deck. Winter gets all the thanks.
Spring showed up three weeks ago and I didn’t even say hello. Suddenly it’s still light out until close to 8:00. I’m going on mountain bike rides and river missions after work! Trails are tacky. I’m drinking beers in a t-shirt. I’m such an ingrate.
And it’s not like I didn’t know spring was around this whole time. From my balcony right now I can see at least fifteen perennially flowering trees and shrubs, going off, decorating my block like no other season does. I know its spring, and I should be more appreciative.
Spring is like a slingshot for adventure. A winter’s worth of patience stretched thin explodes into some of my most memorable trips. Campfires and cookouts are all refreshingly new.
Maybe my newfound affinity is skewed too. Summer is the best season and anyone who says otherwise is lying. I myself constantly claim fall to be my favorite and in many ways it is, but summer is the best season. But summer in my hood is a furnace. The bucolic countryside and rugged hills currently spanning from deep jade to lime green will be parched and bleached by triple digit heat. Wildflowers will be replaced by heaps star thistle, a plant yearning to belong in the desert. Summer’s wounded supremacy leaves spring as something to savor. Was it really prettier all along?
One trip to the alpine in July will remind me the answer is, of course, no. But for now I must lend spring, not just the credit its due today, but back payment for all my years of irreverence and outright scorn. It didn’t deserve it.
You afterthought, you middle child, you generous distant aunt, I’m sorry. You are so good and I’m so happy you’re here.