These Are the Signs of Spring

What are your signs of spring? Are they longer dusks and quicker dawns? New and varied birdsongs announcing returned travelers? Do you see spring in the slow melting of snow and revealing of browned grass slowly turning back to summer’s bouncing greens? Spring comes in the start of soccer, rugby, and baseball. For my mother, spring is heralded by the growth of tiny weeds, an army she must slay before the season helps them become a stronger foe. Babies, everywhere, a typical sign of spring. The lambs and fawns and kits and kittens, the puppies and nestlings and foals and calves, gangly new arrivals. Spring comes in the lack of firewood and in the absence of cold morning noses. Spring re-writes the menu, away go the Brussels sprouts and in come the pea shoots. Away with the nine-grain bread and pencil sketch in the delicate white loaves. Eat the last apples in the bin and replace them with fresh picked asparagus. Spring is the count-down of days away from home, winter fading from view with the vanishing skiers. Signs of spring in bareheaded, barefooted walkers, short-sleeves, short skirts, pale pastels of sweaters. The pinks of Valentine’s yielding to the multihued array of Easter. Rolled down windows as cars flash by, music echoing down the sidewalks. What are your signs of spring? Mountain snowcaps growing fainter and further distant. The refreshed babble of just thawed rivulets. The barest hint of green leaves pushing out of cold tree trunks, the tiny petals of crocus flowers adding color to the dull lawns. The yellow-gold light strands are pulled off the foliage, bit by bit, in the same way they ascended at the beginning edge of winter. Hidden things are revealed. Everyone knows where the dog’s outhouse is, the sun’s lighting making the odor rise and no fresh white blanket to delay the shovel work any longer. There is the debris from autumn’s last wind storm, still needing to be packed away into bags. Deep morning breaths no longer create that odd half-ache, half-sharp joy in your lungs and when you puff out air, it doesn’t shine on the breeze for a moment. What are your signs of spring? Rains falling and milking time renewed, small spots of brightness catching your left eye, then your right. Spring brides and spring births, pale spring sunshine, pale-skinned spring travelers emerging from their winter caves. Mother and brother and sister, my spring people, spring-sprung each of them. Birthdays in the lamb-like ending of March and the flowery first days of April. Spinning out of bed to lay on the risen blades of green and pouncing upward even more quickly with the realization that the wet frost remnants are still icy cold. Mud, glorious mud, splashing, smelling, falling, the happiness of wet dirt and sloppy boot prints. Mint breath and apricot blossoms. What are your signs of spring?


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