“Spring is here

steal pleasure whilst you can.”

- Gareth Writer-Davies, Aphrodite

I work at a public school on Mondays.  To avoid traffic and lights (which I loathe), I take the back roads (which I adore).  My route through the country adds about ten minutes to my morning commute, but avoiding the stop-and-go of rush hour drivers is well worth the extra time.  I cross over creeks, ponds, and little rivers.  I admire grand country-estates and charming little cabins tucked into the trees.  The drive gives me a little extra time to enjoy a podcast or an audio book, and the rosy-fingered dawn is always spectacular – a sight I don’t get to enjoy during my other commutes.

Enjoying the seasons of the south-eastern United States is always a treat for me.  I’m from states where the seasons are “cold – slightly less cold – warm? – COLD!” and “hot – HOT – OH MY GOSH IT’S HOT – slightly less hot – WIND.”  Here in the Piedmont region of the Appalachian Mountains  I finally get to enjoy proper seasons (though admittedly, some do last longer than others.) 

I started a new position at my job last September, a time of the year when the balmy heat of summer  slowly, slowly, s-l-o-w-l-y begins to transition into the crispness of autumn.  Once autumn finally graces us with its presence (after teasing us for weeks on end), we get to enjoy an extraordinary explosion of colors in nature, usually between Halloween and Thanksgiving.  While October  is my absolute favorite, November  is still a gift, for sure.  December  nights are cool and moist, whereas January and February tend to bring the cold and the snow and the ice.  I love these winter storms because the whole state shuts down – Southerners  don’t know how to drive in the snow and Northern Transplants are overly confident, so most of us stay home if we can and I really welcome the peace and quiet.

But spring, oh spring!  Spring starts early here, usually with daffodils and narcissus peaking up, slowly at first, and then eagerly and brilliantly sometime in January.  I don’t know if these are all bulbs that have been planted throughout the region with intention, or if these flowers occur naturally in the Carolina climate.  Either way they show up everywhere – randomly in yards, in the middle of the woods, in gardens, alongside hedges.  I love them!  Daffodils were my favorite as a kid because their yellow trumpet blooms were so unlike other flowers I typically saw.  They are unique and bold and hearty and quirky – usually surviving the last of the winter storms and lasting into good-and-proper Springtime.

Next we usually get to enjoy the forsythia, bold and bright and yellow.  These blooms don’t seem to last long, but they are like gobs of paint upon the greening landscape.  Recently I saw some hyacinths peaking up amidst the daffodils (another favorite of mine.)  Soon I’ll see other signs of life – fragrant but invasive wisteria and honeysuckle, dependable tulips, and I’m sure the fairy-like, delicate trout lilies are out there somewhere, too. 

In the autumn we wait so eagerly for the cooling and cold weather.  During the winter/spring transition we look forward to warm days, but with trepidation.  Warm days mean that hot days aren’t too far behind.  This region loves to be hot, and the liminal space between warm and cool, autumn and springtime, is all too transitory.

As summer draws nearer and nearer, so do more spring flowers – wild growing violets and landscape periwinkles.  Soon we’ll have azaleas, gardenias, magnolias, and our state flower – the tear-stained dogwood.  Oh, the display of colors!  Gaudy, gorgeous blooms!  Heavy, heady scents!  Summer  is officially here when the day lilies come out – they cover the landscape without any shame, exotic and gorgeous and stunning in their beauty and perfect lily-ness

The flowers keep blooming throughout the summer, too.  Day lilies transition to sunflowers and a myriad of wild flowers, and we’ll also have crepe myrtles, too.  By then it will be the end of summer, right before that transition to autumn.  We’ll be holding our breath, waiting for the time to layer on sweaters and scarves over our t-shirts and shorts.  There aren’t many flowers in the late summer/early autumn, but nature is full and heavy and deep.  It’s the harvest time, after all.  Rather than the bright colors of springtime, the colors are older and sit with more weight.  But, that’s when you know that soon, oh so soon!  It will be pumpkin time, and if it’s been a wet springtime, the autumnal leaves will be especially verdant.

But it’s far too early to even be considering the harvest, oh no.  This is the time we draw near to the vernal equinox (as opposed to the autumnal equinox.)  It’s still a bit too cold to go outside without a coat, and our forecast is calling for some snow this weekend.  Here we are, in that moment of transition between Imbolc and Ostara, where it’s not-quite-winter and not-yet-spring.  That liminal space, that transition time.  But the flowers are coming, and nothing can stop them – not even snow flurries on a Saturday afternoon.

On my morning commute this week I drove by a charming farmhouse, one I’ve driven by nearly every Monday for the past six months.  It’s managed to mostly escape my notice, until I realized that it is shrouded in flowers – dozens and dozens of huge, glorious blooming pear trees line the driveway on both sides, and the house is surrounded by flowering trees and bushes, too.  I thought about taking a detour off of the main road, of being a few minutes late for work, just to drive down that corridor of magnificent flowering trees.  What must it be like to be surrounded by such beauty, if only for a few weeks once a year?  These trees are so tall and grand and full, and I fell in love with them a little, remembering past lovers and heartbreaks and romance.  Ah, love!

But next week I’ll fall in love with another bloom – probably the hyacinths with their deep, rich, sweet scents, reminding me of my childhood and the bulbs my mother would plant in her little flowerbed in front of the house every year.  And after the hyacinths maybe I’ll fall in love with the dogwoods, unfolding like a silken wedding dress, or maybe even some early blooming wild roses, so scraggly and resilient, so diametrically opposite from their cultivated sisters.

Springtime is a time for falling in love, and what can possibly be better than to fall in love with spring itself?  Because this season is all-to-short, and soon we’ll be lighting the fires of Beltane.  Soon.

 

“The flower bloomed and faded.  The sun rose and sank.  The lover loved and went.” 

- Virginia Woolf, Orlando