Spring is the most overrated of the four seasons. It's highly welcome mostly because it follows winter's brutality. It creeps in on muddy, blustery paws, seesawing between wintry blasts and occasional warmth. Yards and roads turn to mud, there's slop and ice-cold water everywhere, and in general it makes a nuisance of itself until it matures. Only in contrast to North Dakota winters does spring look good.
It comes more as a relief from winter's yoke than it does as a desired season in its own right. True, there is a brief, at best two week or so period in late spring that can be glorious and even rival the king of seasons, autumn. Our yard's lilacs, apple tree blossoms of several varieties, and plum tree flowerings delight the eye and scent the property beyond any man-made perfume, but soon enough the weather turns too warm and biting insects fill the air.
Not that we've had much warmth so far this year. In fact, much like we didn't have a fall to speak of last year, we barely had a spring at all before jumping into summer-like weather.
The living's easy right now, as the song goes, but this transition to summer hasn't erased what the late winter was for us in our little house on the prairie. This winter was a bare-knuckles fight, the worst winter since 1996-1997's mother of all winters. That was our first winter in our rural home; fortunately we were almost a quarter of a century younger than now and managed to tough it out. The recently deceased winter found me repeatedly up to my knees in snow trying to dig vehicles out of ditches in 30 mile-per-hour winds at 10 or 15 below zero ambient temperature, and it took a toll on us. We're having sober discussions about how many more winters like this one we can endure. And of course when the melt came parts of the gravel roads unavoidably resembled the Okefenokee swamp.
I guess there's a reason why almost everyone in my very large immediate and extended family, all natives to this area, has moved to other climes. I used to like winter; now it just chills me.
- Nelson: We manual typists are a dwindling band
- Nelson: The business of safety enforcement can be carried too far
There was a time when spring exhilarated me. It wasn't just the feeling of relief from bitter cold and snow but a sensation of promise, a fresh start, a notion that the world was young again and I could start from a clean slate. I haven't had that sentiment for many years now. Recent rearranging of the many books I keep in our machine shed and throwing out mice-damaged items (the wretched fur-covered demons), and finding pictures I hadn't seen for years, have made this a more thoughtful, even slightly melancholy spring than usual. The mounds of unread books remind me that at this point there is, as the great conservative columnist Charley Reese once commented comparing his life to a boat, “more wake than bow wave.”
At least summer has come. Alas, in a few weeks the days start getting shorter again.