Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Spring, Sprang, Sprung

And so it begins.  Photo from here.
I know today is the first day of Spring because, well, it is on the calendar.  And I'm cleaning, though I don't think it's technically Spring Cleaning, because I am not attacking things with the vigor that capitalized cleaning demands.  Mostly, I'm probably cleaning because I started writing this and got stuck a little and began to productively procrastinate, which I've talked about here before. 

Since we live in Arizona, the news stations have resorted to showing pictures of local mountain snow, followed by out of state spring blooms, because here, in the Valley of the Sun, it has been in the mid to high eighties for the past week.  It was ninety on the weekend, when I stubbornly refused to turn on the air conditioner, because, for G-d sakes, it's March, dammit.  Mike got the table fan out of the storage closet, and we did use the ceiling fan and open all the windows to catch any cool breezes that might waft our way. 

So yeah, Spring, whatever. 
I remember being out in this kind of weather.  Amazing picture from here.

But I wasn't always this blase about the vernal equinox and the harbingers of Spring, like the tiny green shoots of crocus that gamely poke up through the grey slush of accumulated winter weather.  I have lived where Spring mattered, and even if the day itself didn't bring a cinematic blossoming and brightening, it was the promise of something to look forward to-- that lovely time before summer and steamy, icky weather that was as kvetch-worthy as winter in its own unbearable way. 

This is near Emerson Hall.  I think I fell right around where these bikes are parked. 
I grew up in Southern California, then moved to Arizona, so I came to winter late, you see, and it took me a while to catch up. I was childlike, goofy really, in my wonder at snow when we first moved to the East coast. I went outside, without my jacket, put my hands up, my tongue out, and spun around, then promptly slipped and went down, top over tea-kettle. My learning curve was embarrassingly steep. In Maine, Mike finally bought me some stretchy, spiky shoe attachments (kind of like these) at LL Bean. That was after I had already purchased the sturdiest, heaviest boots I'd ever owned. The soles looked like tire treads. I'd resisted, initially, for the same reason I'd had to pass up the chunky platform sandal trend-- congenitally thick ankles. I put those babies on reluctantly, because they made me look like a puffy down parka perched on two tree stumps, surrounded by a snowy ring of ragg wool sock and, well, big heavy hiking boots. But after losing a ballet flat and a Converse sneaker in snow drifts on the way to school, I gave in. The ice still got the best of me though, and I slid and splayed like a newborn lamb, unable to spot slick patches quickly enough to step around them. Hence the spikes. I lost the spikes in snow drifts twice, both times off of my left boot. In Portland, I eventually I got to the point where I could be trusted to walk out in winter with a baby, but then I usually had the stroller to steady me, or I stuck to side streets and walked down the middle, where municipal trucks had been kind enough to drop salt and sand to keep me off the ground.


I have fallen more than once here, too. The second time it was only raining kind of hard, so yeah, maybe it's me.

I have had the ignominious pleasure of falling on my ass at Harvard too, though not academically, thank goodness.  (Though wouldn't I love the chance?!) As a super philosophy nerd, I was excited to get permission to take a seminar led by T.M. Scanlon and Derek Parfit a few fall semesters ago.  The seminar room in Emerson Hall was packed every week because these guys are such giant fish in the tiny philosophy pond, and listening to them respectfully disagree about matters of ethics was always a good show.  The Brighton-Somerville bus was running late that week, because the weather was bad, though not bad enough to call classes.  I got off the bus and slid on a patch of ice to a near fall in front of Harvard Book Store, just before I crossed the street to go through one of the campus gates.  Thinking that I had now filled my quota of embarrassing mishaps for the day, I hurried on, only to land flat on my rear on the path that led to Emerson Hall.  Luckily, I had only twisted my ankle and I still had both of my boots on, but I was soaked and had to dig the contents of my book bag out of the snow around me before hobbling the rest of the way to the seminar.  The lecture had already begun and the room was packed, which is just as well. I would have looked even sillier standing alone at the back of a partially empty room just to avoid soaking a Harvard chair. 

Yeah, I fell more than once at BC too. 


So even though there is no winter danger now that we've moved back West, I still sigh happily at the thought of Spring, remembering soft breezes and slowly rising temperatures.  And I sometimes miss that early morning anticipation, watching the early newsteam joke about the crappy weather while the crawl scrolls below them listing the schools and businesses and roads that are closed.  Day off!  Jackpot!  Turn off the news and snuggle back into bed.  By the end of the winter this gets old though, and you've missed so many school days you have to do makeups into June, or you've lost enough work hours that paying the heating oil bill is a tight squeeze. It's time for Spring then. 

My theory is that we feel the seasons change when the temperature starts to hover around 40 degrees for any length of time.  In the Fall, as the winter bears down, we pull out the woolen scarves and the anoraks, saying, "It's only 40 out there.  It's freezing!"  On the other end of winter's tunnel, we welcome that shift into the 40's, putting the heavy sweaters back into storage and pulling out the more delicate footwear.  "It's already 40 degrees.  It's warming up!"  The buds are starting to appear and the trees are beginning to lose their scary, twisty ghost-tree look.  Even here, in the anomalously warm desert, the forty degree rule seems to hold.  Especially when you get to call someone back East and taunt them with a forty degree difference in daytime temperature.  Soon enough though, it will be Spring for everyone. 

We'll be that much closer to complaining about the heat of Summer.

New beginnings are always welcome.  Picture found here.

Images of Boston colleges in the snow from here.

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