5 Reasons to Love the Spring
Updated: Jul 25, 2019
As it’s approaching late April in Boston, and the balmy days of 42 degrees are starting to melt the snowdrifts covering my window, my thoughts naturally turn to spring, and all the good things to enjoy about that season. I say “that” because it still feels far off in the distance; it doesn’t yet warrant being referred to as “this” season yet. My fellow New Englanders would understand. We don’t start talking about spring in the present tense until late May, when the first buds show up on the trees, and the rivers are no longer safe for ice hockey.
Now, in the interest of full disclosure, I actually love the winter. I wrote an entire blog post about why I love the winter (there were 10 reasons to love the winter, whereas I can only find 5 reasons to love the spring), so this is a new thing for me: finding glory and inspiration in sunshine and flowers, freshness and birds chirping. I know people who are into that kind of thing, but it’s normally not my cup of tea. But here goes.
1. The smell of the earth thawing out
This is probably my favorite thing about the spring. There’s a certain smell that only comes around in the very early weeks of spring, when the ground begins to thaw out. I usually notice it in the early evenings, and it’s difficult to describe – it’s a familiar, dark bluish-green, almost muddy fragrance of freshness, early evening sunshine and new beginnings that evokes childhood: playing in the streets with the neighborhood kids as the sun is staying out longer, and you don’t need a jacket anymore, but your ears are still cold. These are the days in between winter and spring: early April in the northeast.
2. The sun is a good thing, after all
My wife is from California, and she absolutely loves the sun. She’s always telling me why it’s so important and wonderful. I’m from the cold, dark tundra of upstate New York, and I have Swedish blood, and I’ve never really been a huge ‘sun-person,’ though I have friends who are. It’s true that I generally prefer sunny days to gray days, but it was difficult for me when I lived in California because it was sunny all the time, and I would get bored. I missed the clouds; it’s like if your only movie selection from now until the rest of eternity were romantic comedies with Meryl Streep – that’s what it’s like to live in sunny California, in terms of weather. It’s permanently set on a very good thing that everybody loves, but it’s still just one thing – all the time. The weather in the northeast is more like flipping channels somewhere past midnight – you might stumble into something sunny and fresh, like a midnight showing of Jerry Maguire or Groundhog Day, but you might also land on a humorless, overcast comedy from the 80’s that makes you feel cold, angry and bitter. But at least now you appreciate how lucky you were when you were watching Groundhog Day the other night, and you’ll never take that good movie for granted, ever again.
I don’t know many people who de-clutter in December. Simplification and de-cluttering seem almost anathema to the holiday season with the Dickensian shops full of gnomes and old clocks and mahogany, antique drawers, and trees brimming with ornaments and gingerbread houses displayed on the table. It seems that in December we enter a cycle of proliferation: more clothing, more gifts, more things to do, more parties to get ready for, and more deadlines at work. And then April comes along, and we chuck everything out the window.
I’ve never understood this human tendency (of which I’m also guilty) to aggressively proliferate tasks and create arbitrary deadlines right before the winter holidays – don’t we know it stresses everybody out? Isn’t this busy-ness the opposite of what we are trying to celebrate? It begins in school and college with final exams, and extends into the workplace as everyone frantically declares that we need this report finalized before the end of the year, and the kitchen really needs to be remodeled before everyone arrives (and maybe we should get a new roof too), so we add all these tasks to the ever-growing-end-of-the-year-to-do list. We can’t just enjoy the peaceful season as it is. We have to earn it first, through frenzied, cluttered motion. It’s almost a form of collective self-sabotage: we so strongly resist the peace the season brings. In spring, there’s less of this heavy gravitas and busy, psychic resistance, and instead there’s more space and lightness in the air.
I only watch baseball occasionally, when I’m having trouble falling asleep, but I just like knowing that it’s on. As long as we have baseball, we still have a country, despite our differences. And there’s something so relaxing about baseball, and the pace at which it moves. It always gives me confidence and faith in humanity’s attention span. As smartphones and iPads pull us into bite-sized content, and as 30-second television commercials hypnotize us with flickering images that reverse the effects of 30 minutes of meditation, isn’t it comforting that people are still watching baseball? I mean, does anything else move so slowly? Even with golf – you’re pretty much guaranteed to see a guy hit a ball hundreds of yards in the air on the first tee – which is exciting. But when that happens in baseball, it’s a huge deal! A home run! People stand and cheer. He hit the ball! But that only happens once every two hours or so, if you’re lucky – usually the ball just flies by the guy, and the catcher catches it. End of story. And that’s not very compelling to me. Maybe I’m just spoiled from watching all that golf. But while baseball will never be the passionate, explosive journey that is televised golf to me, I still like knowing that it’s there – on TV tonight – if I ever need it.
5. Taking walks in the evening
I don’t do much recreational walking in the winter. I find the wind, frostbite, wolves, and frozen, headache-exposed ears just a bit unfriendly towards those leisurely strolls of spring, summer and early fall. There is a nice lake near our place, and my wife and I were out walking yesterday, enjoying the cloudless sky and the clean, spacious air. There’s a feeling of expansion in the spring; the winter is contracting, forcing you inside, shutting you down, while the warmer, extroverted April air invites everyone to move outward. So, we moved outward – taking our walk around this lake, and there were people and dogs out, being social, getting their exercise. Being extroverts.
One dog in particular stood out. He was unleashed, but not acting as you would expect an unleashed dog to act. He passed us by in a very civilized manner, slowly, deliberately minding his own business, staying on the path, moving in a straight line, ignoring the other dogs and people, trotting along at a walking pace – like a middle-aged human. We glanced around, wondering where his owner was. There was a man, maybe fifty yards ahead of the dog, biking along in a rather insouciant, chill manner. He was the likeliest candidate for the dog owner, as the dog seemed to have a kind of psychic connection to this man, despite their apparent indifference to each other. They had something striking in common – they were the most casual, laid-back dog-owner pair I’ve probably ever seen. Their whole vibe just said, “It’s all good.” A nearby Labradoodle owner gripped her dog’s leash, as the free-spirited, unleashed dog casually strolled by, completely ignoring the lunging, wide-eyed Labradoodle. I’ve never seen a dog so meditative and serene, as this dog. Meanwhile, the apparent owner just continued cycling, unworried, unfazed, not looking back, just moving along at a pleasant, consistent pace, as the gap between him and the chill, unleashed dog widened. Occasionally, the dog would sprint ahead a bit, closing the gap, and then he would fall back again. The cyclist just kept coasting along – completely Zen and unhurried – just knowing that his dog was okay. Everything was okay.
“Nobody rides a bike like that to get exercise,” my wife remarked.
“No, it can’t be. I bet he’s a music professor, or an acupuncturist. Something calm. The way he rides that bike – it’s just so relaxed…so west coast.”
“The dog is so calm too…”
“I know – if we had let our dogs off the leash, when I was growing up, they would have bolted for the water, diving in, soaking wet, jumping onto people, tackling each other, throwing things, eating grass, rolling in the mud, drooling everywhere – they’d be arrested by now,” I observed.
“The owner and the dog must do this a lot – the dog seems so comfortable – like he’s been here before, many times. It must be their routine.”
“And maybe the owner gets home half an hour before the dog, and the dog just finds his way home, and lets himself in…” I speculated.
“Yeah, and maybe the dog has a lover that dispenses his food for him….”
“…a lover?” I asked.
“A lever! The dog has a lever that he pulls, to dispense his dog food by himself, so the owner doesn’t have to…”
“Oh! – I thought you said the dog had a lover…”
“Well, he might have a lover!”
“Yes, I hope so. Every dog needs a lover. Especially in the spring.”
And so it goes with the season of spring: we have sunshine, baseball, dogs and their lovers. It will never be winter, of course, but as seasons go, you could do a lot worse. Happy spring to you and your lover.
Carl McCoy, copyright 2019
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