I looked over most of the things I’ve written and realized there is very little about spring. Practically nothing. I’ve written about summer, fall and winter, all seasons except spring. Why is that? I wondered. It’s not that I have anything against spring. I’ve mentioned it many times and always in a fond way in larger writings. But a piece of prose or a poem simply about spring? I never did any. So, I thought I’d better rectify that situation and write a piece for the season.
Spring is coming early this year—or at least there is every indication of that. Spring is elusive and often unpredictable. Some years one is sure that it will never come and then suddenly it pops into view and is with us, providing warm days without pause. Other years it comes and then suddenly is gone and we have days, perhaps weeks of winter returned. This year it is especially difficult to proclaim it to be spring because of the fact that we have had so little winter. People have told me recently of seeing definite signs of spring—crocuses coming up and robins returning. When I lived on the farm, there were three things I loved seeing: the appearance of crocuses next to the path to the house, robins in the kitchen garden and the sight and the sound of geese flying high over greening fields, coming north. I came to realize, though, that creatures of nature, plants and birds, can be fooled. There were times when their appearance was followed by nasty weather, some years rather severe.
Spring means different things to different people. I once knew a fellow who had come here from Puerto Rico and had a poor opinion of spring in Pittsburgh. He claimed it consisted of three temperate days between a snowstorm and a heat wave. For many people it is the season of love, hence the famous, classic poem, erudite and succinct, that I remember from very early in my life—from grade school:
Spring is sprang and the grass is riz.
I wonder where my true love is.
Sometimes that true love is hard to find. A girl I knew in high school had a love/hate relationship with a boy whose last name was Lang. One spring she sadly voiced the following lines:
The grass is riz and spring is sprang
And here I am, stuck with Lang.
My wife, Mariellen, loved spring. She rejoiced in it. She loved the sight, the feel, the smell, the all of it. One bright day of an early spring she joyfully stood with her arms spread wide, welcoming its arrival. “Isn’t this wonderful?” she exclaimed. “Can’t you smell it? I’ve always loved the smell of spring. I know what it smells like,” she said in sudden discovery. “It smells like wet earth—earth thawing and coming alive again after a long winter.”
That’s the way I still think of spring—a time of the smell of wet earth, earth renewing itself. And I think of spring as a time of promise, something that, though of necessity disappearing for a time, faithfully returns to us every year with that promise—the promise of new life.