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.
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. Perhaps 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.
Yet 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 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.
The 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.
Then 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.
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.
And 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.