Copyright © 1998 Henrietta W. Hay
Spring Sort of Springs
March 6. 1998
In "The Rite of Spring" Stravinsky put to beautiful music one of the
many pagan ceremonies that humankind has used through the years to
explain the changing seasons. In Fantasia Disney used the title and the
music to depict in animation the creation of the world, complete with
My favorite spring myth is the Greek story of Persephone. She was the
beautiful daughter of Demeter, the goddess of the harvest. She was
abducted by Hades and carried away into the depths of the earth.
Demeter vowed to allow no harvest until she should see her daughter
again. She finally accepted the gods' proposal that Persephone should
spend at least part of the year with her.
And so, according to one translation, 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.
Some of the most beautiful flowers in the world come, not from the
ground, but from the passionate mind and hand of painter Georgia
Musicians and poets and artists glorify Spring, making it sound
romantic and warm and beautiful and inspiring. But in cold, hard
actuality, here in the Banana Belt , a better literary description is
Wallace Stevens', "Poor, dear, silly Spring, preparing her annual
After all these years, why should it be a surprise? Sometime in
February we get a couple of those beautiful spring like days that make
even those of us who have been around here a long time turn off reality
and think, "Oh, this year will be different. It is really spring and I
can breathe again." And then Whammmo ----- freezing weather and a foot
The surprise involves guessing which two days between January and July
will actually be spring. The little purple crocuses pop through the
gravel in my back yard in late February, and it has been known to snow
in June. But sometime between a day when you bundle up against a
temperature of 32 and the day when you take off all the clothes you
modestly can and brave a temperature of 91, there are a couple of days
of glorious Colorado 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. According to one climate
researcher, "Although the sun-earth geometry is clearly the origin of
the seasons on earth, it has nothing directly to do with temperature or
weather." We knew that all the time! In England what they call spring
runs from February through April.
Lest you doubt the power of spring storms around here, the Guiness Book
of World Records reports that the world record snowfall for a 24 hour
period was 76 inches on April 14 and 15, 1921 at Silver Lake, Colorado
- wherever that is. My friend the philosopher says that nobody knows
where it is because it was buried under snow in 1921 and was never seen
Here in the Grand Valley the natives claim to know when spring is here.
It is when the neck of the swan on the Grand Mesa is broken. I wonder
what the Greeks would have done with that one. Of course, you have to
be able to find the swan before you can know the state of its neck.
Years ago the state slogan was, "'Tis a privilege to live in
Colorado." We have escaped the worst of El Niņo which is cutting
such a vicious path across our part of the world. With awful tornadoes
in Florida and floods and mud slides in California, 'tis really a
privilege to live in Colorado.
So I admire my little crocus blooms out my back door, and look out the
front door as my neighbor scrapes the snow off the trunk of his car so
he can load his golf clubs. Spring is here when we feel it and smell
it. Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow. I know that spring will
come again. I'll know it when I can smell it.