Sights, Sounds, and Smells of Spring

– Posted in: Meditations
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Sights

One of the many good things about spring is that without it, and without the absence imposed by fall and winter, we flawed mortals might fail to appreciate the beauties around us. So much of the wonder of spring is found in the return of what was absent. Would the appearance of new leaves and fresh grass be so wonderful to our small minds if they hadn’t been absent?

The first greening of the grass is like the first sight, the heralding, of spring with that glimpse of brilliant green that soon grows to carpet the earth everywhere. Then the trees, warmed by the fresh sunlight and rain, begin to unfold their leaves until even the last late trees have unfurled their finery and it is as if the last of spring has completed its work and summer has arrived. It is as the greenery of new life comes that I feel a long dormant pleasure and realize how much I have missed it all.The last leaves unfurl

With spring many flowers bloom. Memorable for me in this part of the country are the snowdrops, crocuses, daffodils, forsythia, irises, juneberry, apples, and lilacs. Each is beautiful in its own right, each marks another splash of color and life in the canvas of nature. Apple blossoms - Photo by Rundy 2006Perhaps closest to my heart are apple blossoms. There is something exquisitely lovely about walking through an apple orchard in full bloom. It defies description. You must be there to fully understand and appreciate. There is the brilliant white beauty and gentle fragrance when the apples are in full bloom, and there is an almost sad and meditative beauty as the flowers fade and the white petals fall like some other-worldly snow to carpet the green ground.

Lilacs - Photo by Rundy 2003If apple blossoms are my favorite flower of spring, lilacs (to me) are the closing flower of spring. It feels as if spring has ended and summer has come when the lilacs are gone.

DandelionsYet unmentioned is the flower I find iconic for spring: the dandelion. Driving through the country during springtime, I can see entire fields of them. They are far from the most beautiful flower, they are not dainty or exquisite . . . but there is some simple cheery vigor about dandelions which speaks to me about the heart of spring. And there is some wild and unvarnished beauty to a field turned bright yellow by the endless profusion of dandelions.

Sounds

Sounds affect me in a different way than sights. In a sense this may seem like an obvious statement because you hear sounds while you see sights. But I mean sounds touch my emotions differently. It is a subtle distinction of impression which I’m not sure I fully grasp or can adequately articulate. In general I would say sight and sound touch emotions from different avenues. Speaking in particular about spring, while I find the sights of spring invigorating I often find the sounds of spring to induce reflection and a quiet pleasantness.

Birds at feederThe morning time symphony of spring is carried out by the birds. They start very early, before dawn, and continue until the morning wanes toward midday. Their calls, twittering and chattering, interweaves with the sunlight to brighten the day and spur one on to action. It is as if all together they say, “Busy, busy, busy,” and “Happy, happy, happy.”

One of the most pleasing sounds in spring, for me, are the peepers. Peepers are small frogs which emit a distinctive peeping mating call. If birds are the musical orchestra of the morning then these little frogs are the maestros of the evening. As evening falls with its coolness and darkness begins to creep in the peepers take up their call. It is . . . an unearthly ambiance. It is strangely pleasant, like the melody of night itself. Perhaps as such some people would find it slightly creepy, (and it does have a certain resemblance to the “scary music” sound that is played in dark spooky scenes in some movies), but for me it is the type of sound which sets my mind free to wander the paths of ethereal lands. Not only is it a sound to have wafting through a slightly opened window as one goes to sleep, but it is a sound for sitting on the porch after dark and thinking quiet thoughts as the night wanes late.

Geese feeding across the street - Photo by Cadence 2006Then there are the geese. A pond sits directly across the street from my grandparents house, which a number of geese frequent. In the cooler hours of evening the geese seem most active in flying about. I will be accused of using bad English in saying this, but I find something painterly in hearing geese flying low overhead, their, “Honk, honk, honk,” echoing slightly in the cooling evening air, followed by several splashes as they come in to land on the water. Painterly, because the sounds evoke the images of wildlife paintings in my mind, especially paintings of marshes in the evening, with geese. If the birds and peepers are almost frenetic in their energy, there is something more stately and steady about the sounds of geese, as if they are the sentinels and watchmen over this domain, watchmen who give their final benediction to the dimming world as they head to seal the day with a final baptismal splash.

Smells

Smell is the most subtle of senses touched by spring. In spring there is the sweet fragrance of flowers, which is perhaps the first thing many think of. But my thoughts are drawn to subtler scents. In winter the sun is low and weak, giving little light and even less warmth. Because of that I would say the first smell of spring comes when the sun rises high enough, and shines strong enough, to create the particular aroma of bedsheets warmed by sunlight pouring through the window. Is there any smell more homely and inviting than that?

Then there is the smell of fresh air, so undefinable and yet something we all recognize on that first day after a long winter when we open a window and that smell, so deliciously fresh, wafts into the house for the first time after so many months. It is an aroma which reinvigorates a person and truly freshens a house. If sickness hangs on the stale air of winter, then the air of spring brings health and life on its wings.

Wet woods - photo by Cadence 2006And we can’t forget the smell of rain. It comes on the wind, a harbinger of the storm, and strikes the senses with a particular almost tang. That is a unique smell that I always wonder how it is created, and so strongly, to come even before the storm has reached. No flower has an aroma with such reach.

After the rain has fallen there is the rich pungent smell of wetness, the earthy odor of damp dirt and things growing.

As a fitting conclusion, we can’t forget the smell of fresh cut grass. Like so many things, it is best enjoyed in the early morning or in the closing of evening. To step outside and see the glisten of fresh dew on the cut grass and smell the sweet fragrance speaks of a day full of possibilities and work that can be done. To sit on the porch and smell that same fragrance in the dying light speaks of work done, a good day spent and the last hours of a day to be enjoyed in relaxation.

Spring is here, and it is a thing to be enjoyed with all the senses.

Originally published on Silverware Thief. Photos added by Kathy Purdy.

About the Author

At age fifteen, Rundy decided he wanted to write for his living. He is currently working on a novel, although it is not the novel he started at fifteen. When not working on the novel, he might be riding his bike, feeding his chickens, helping his neighbors, messing around with web design and computers in general, or writing on his blog, which discusses other topics in addition to gardening. USDA Hardiness Zone: 4 AHS Heat Zone: 3 Location: rural; Southern Tier of NY Geographic type: foothills of Appalachian Mountains Soil Type: acid clay Experience level: advanced beginner Particular interests: fruits, vegetables, major landscaping, chickens and other poultry

When dealing with frost it is always best to be paranoid. In the spring never think it is too late for one more frost to come. And in the fall never think it too early.

~Rundy in Frost

Comments on this entry are closed.

Molly May 17, 2007, 11:30 pm

What a lovely essay. You’ve paid honor to three of my springtime favorites–apple blossoms, lilacs, and dandelions.

Piana Nanna May 16, 2007, 12:01 pm

I lived for two years in a tropical climate when my husband was in the Navy. I really missed the changes in the seasons, and even though I really do dislike winter, it makes spring all the more special.

Annie in Austin May 14, 2007, 8:57 am

Kathy and Rundy ~ the lilac photo probably made me a little giddy so I missed seeing the byline. Three apple trees are three times as many as we ever had!
It’s a beautiful post, and the error gives me the chance to say, “The Apple doesn’t fall far from the Tree.”

Annie

Rundy May 14, 2007, 6:53 am

Three apple trees count. But a larger orchard would be much more cool.

Kathy Purdy May 14, 2007, 6:13 am

Dawn, thanks for stopping by. My larkspur are just sprouting. It was nice to see a blooming patch on your blog.

Kathy Purdy May 14, 2007, 6:08 am

Annie–I guess I have to make the byline on posts a little bigger, or bolder, because you missed the fact that this post was written by my son, Rundy. We have 3 cultivated apple trees on our property, and wild ones scattered throughout the neighborhood, so I’m not sure what orchard he is referring to. I find much joy in spring, too, but Rundy writes most eloquently about it. He wrote a great spring post last year, too.

Annie in Austin May 13, 2007, 10:44 pm

Your descriptions are so beautiful, Kathy, but even though we have both lived in northern states, your rural experiences are so different from my suburban ones that I can only try to imagine a place like yours.
Everyone had one or two apple trees and we loved the blossoms, yes, but I’ve never seen an orchard full! What a lovely place it must be when all the petals are falling.

The early sounds in Illinois were less often of birds twittering, more often the harsh calls of crows. But we really knew Lilacs – and not just a few shrubs – we had an entire city park packed with all varieties, colors, sizes and shapes of them.

After your long, long winter, it’s wonderful to read of the joy you are finding in spring.

Annie at the Transplantable Rose

Dawn May 13, 2007, 10:25 pm

So glad that you’re enjoying the renewing beauty of Spring. You’re so right: I recall how living in the Midwest with its cold and snowy winters helped me to appreciate Spring all the more.

Must say that I’m enjoying a bit more Seasons here in Austin than I did in Florida, but it’s nothing like you experience. I look forward to reading more of your blog.

Cheers & Enjoy the Warmth,
Dawn