Copyright © 1997 Henrietta W. Hay
April 2, 1997
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 and bright/snowing . I've seen too many western springs to make a wild guess. Actually real spring here is a period of about 48 hours -- that short interval between the last snow and the first 90 degree day, -- but we natives like to fool ourselves by thinking each beautiful warm day in April is something more than a just a tease.
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. The crocuses and the gardeners come out, and the late snowstorms bury everything in sight.
I always think it is spring when the three lonely little purple and white crocuses emerge from a patch of gravel in my yard. How the bulbs got there and how they survive I will never know, but each spring, there they are.
An even more reliable harbinger of spring is my neighbor. When I see her sun bathing in her bikini, with a little bit of snow still visible in the shrubs, I know that spring is close by. That always makes me rush back inside to get my down jacket, but she says that early spring sun is the best kind.
Spring is the season when you convince yourself that you have a slightly better chance of getting across the mountains without being held up by a snowstorm than you had in January, even though you know that spring is the wettest season in Colorado. Here in the Banana Belt it is easy to forget about snow on the passes, which makes it all the more fun to watch the flatlanders on TV when they head out for a day of spring skiing . They are often pictured putting chains on their cars while dressed in shorts.
Lest you doubt the power of spring storms around here, the Guinness Book of world Records reports that the world record snowfall for a 24 hour period was 76 inches at Silver Lake, Colorado, wherever that is, on April 14 and 15, 1921. That might have been the year I got roller skates for my birthday and couldn't find the sidewalk for a week. I have never trusted spring since.
Spring does more than just make people goofy. It stirs the creative juices too. Nearly all the poets have written about spring. Chaucer was one the earliest on record, and his description in Canterbury Tales makes me glad the English language has been simplified. "Whan that Aprille with his shoures soote, The drought of March hath pierced to the roote," which may be an early version of April showers bring May flowers.
In the Rite of Spring Stravinsky put to music one of the many pagan ceremonies that humankind has used throughout 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 gamboling around.
Some of the most beautiful flowers in the world come not from the ground, but from the passionate mind and hand of Georgia O'Keefe. It is always springtime where her paintings are.
And then there is always the wet blanket. Ogden Nash wrote, "I do not like the signs of spring / The fever and the chills, / the icy mud and puny bud, / The frozen daffodils.../ Let other poets gayly sing: / I do not like the signs of Spring." Oh well, there's one in every crowd.
It is spring in Colorado when you can smell it. You can't describe it, but you can smell it. It is spring after the last week in April. It is spring when Daylight Savings Time comes along and knocks our biological clocks out of order. And it is spring when the neck is broken on the swan on Grand Mesa.
In spring everything is new and fresh, everything is possible, everything has a new beginning.