Copyright © 1999 Henrietta W. Hay
Ode (well, Column) to Spring
April 16, 1999
Is it spring yet? Well, yes and no. In this country it's pretty hard
to tell. "Colorado spring" is an oxymoron. Today it is
warm/bright/snowing/blowing Utah through town. Tomorrow it will be
warm/bright/snowing/blowing Utah through town. Take your pick. We have
all seen too many western springs to guess what tomorrow will be. My
Montana friends think it is summer already, and Arizona friends are
still in coats.
Spring is the season when the sap rises in trees and kids and there is
not a thing in the world you can do about either one.
Actually, real spring here is a period of about 48 hours -- that short
interval between the day you wear a down vest and the day you wear as
little as decency allows. But we natives like to fool ourselves by
thinking each beautiful warm day in April is something more than just a
tease. We really know better.
When you add daylight saving time into the mix, it really gets
confusing. My friend the philosopher claims that most of the ills of
the world are caused by daylight saving time.
The signs of spring are definitely here. One of my neighbors was
sunbathing a couple of weeks ago, claiming that early spring sun is the
best kind. The sight sent me back in for my heavy coat. Another
neighbor has a tiny, aging dog which walks only with great effort. The
first fairly warm day he was out chugging along the sidewalk thinking,
no doubt, "Ah, I made it to one more spring." I search the canal each
morning for baby ducks, but haven't seen any yet.
It's probably just as well. One of the funniest scenes I ever saw was
in a very early Disney movie. This classic scene, which gets repeated
now and then, had a duck in flight, confidently approaching a lake.
Problem was, unknown to said duck, the lake was covered with ice, and
when the poor little guy landed, he slid halfway across. Somehow every
feather seemed to express complete surprise. It must have been a
Colorado lake in spring.
It turns out that the dates of spring are simply a matter of custom
anyway. No formal governmental body ever declared that spring begins
with the equinox and summer with the solstice. Although the sun-earth
geometry is clearly the origin of the seasons on earth, it has nothing
to do directly with temperature or weather.
I wrote last year about a record snowfall. The 1992 Guinness Book of
Records reports that the record for a single snow storm in a 24 hour
period was at Silver Lake, Colorado, where 76 inches fell -- guess
when? -- April 14 and 15, 1921. I commented that I had no idea where
Silver lake is. A reader called and told me that there are five Silver
Lakes in Colorado.
Spring has been the inspiration from some of the great art of the
world. Stravinsky's "The Rite of Spring" has put to beautiful music
many pagan ceremonies that humankind has used through the years to
explain the changing seasons. In "Fantasia" Disney used that music to
depict in animation the creation of the world, complete with dinosaurs
Some of the most beautiful flowers in the world come not from the
ground, but from the passionate mind and heart of Georgia O'Keefe. It
is always springtime where her paintings are.
According to Greek mythology Persephone was abducted by Hades and
carried away to the depths of the earth. Her mother Demeter vowed no
harvest until she should see her daughter again. But she finally
accepted the Gods' proposal that she should spend part of the year with
her. And so Persephone spends the winter months below the ground, but
when she comes back to her mother in the Spring, the earth will burst
into bloom with flocks of sweet smelling flowers and the fruit will grow
on the trees
Edna St. Vincent Millay says that, "April comes like an idiot, babbling
and strewing flowers. It is spring when you can smell it. You can't
really describe it, but you can smell it.
And you can see it when the neck is broken on the swan on the Grand
Mesa. Wonder what the Greeks would do with that one.