Writer's Block. New, Improved Website Pending. Going to fire up some good ones for a re-read for many of you. ENJOY!
Spring and the Three Signals
I was raised on the north side of Chicago. We don’t have Spring there. We have Summer, Fall, Winter, and a warm front that stays for a while. The warm front is a mass of air from the west that is exceeds 50 degrees. It will come and go as early as February and as late as May. When the front stays at, oh, 60 degrees for over ten days or so and it’s past Mother’s Day, you’re pretty sure it’s Summer.
Identifying the other seasons wasn’t that hard. Summer, no jackets and 90 percent humidity.
Fall, the leaves change color.
Winter, you’re miserable, cold and sick.
But Spring is in motion. You’re never sure exactly when it arrives. Or leaves.
So, as I have walked through this life, I have used three signals to alert me to the change of seasons.
The first signal was in my childhood. At St. Gertrude’s Elementary, the biggest signal that Spring was here was when the teachers opened the windows during the school day. The first time I remember this was in fourth grade. Mrs. Newport, a kind woman with a beautiful big nose, reached over to open the window and didn’t close it until we were ready to leave for the day. Every year afterward, I waited or that signal. That was when everything changed. Warm air. The sound of traffic. Listening to people come and go from the front of the school. That gesture reminded you that life still existed. And you understood what everybody meant by the term, “Spring Fever:” you could hardly contain yourself from flying out the schoolhouse door and being part of the world again.
In 1980, the second signal of Spring came when I moved to San Diego. There are seasons, but they’re really only two: Summer and Summer-ish. Summer is when the temperatures during the day stay at 70 or above. Summer-ish is when they get into the 60’s, even the 50’s. That’s when people in San Diego break out their jackets. One of the funniest things you’ll ever see is when somebody that lives in San Diego actually feels the need to where a parka. That’s what they call winter here, but it’s really Summer-ish.
However, Spring out here has a very distinct signal: Wildflowers dot the sides of the freeways.
It usually happens in the second or third week of February. You’re driving along and all of a sudden a swath of sunflowers catches your eye, and you brake suddenly to avoid rear-ending the car in front of you. The presence of Spring is distinct. For about two weeks, the flowers grow on every spare patch of grass. Every off ramp tells you it’s Spring. Summer-ish is over. Put the parka back in the closet.
The third signal came about twenty years ago, when I first realized Time compresses as we age. At this age, Valentine’s Day was twenty minutes ago, and Christmas was a half hour before that. Commitments toward losing weight, reading more, and being more accepting tend to get lost. The New Year’s resolutions have been forgotten, and our routines have re-routed us into the familiar highways of interpersonal beige.
Spring knows this. It is here to electrify our intentions. That need to be outside, the restlessness that helps us shake off our backsliding into a dormant, uneventful life stands before our face, looking us right in our eyes. It’s the open window. The sunflowers. The new growth of life. Traffic. Birds. Footsteps. Rain. Baseball.
Spring pushes the throttle to life again. It reminds you of that highway in front of you. You have a lot of a good ride left.
Stick to your diet. Read ten pages a day. Move your feet.
And smile your butt off. The Vernal Equinox is almost here. Daylight Savings has arrived.
We get a do-over.
Get going. Start living again. Begin to move with the fever of the season.