Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Columns

March 10, 2013

Spring comes with a price, but the great season of renewal is worth the cost

A flash of purple catches my eye. In a sea of weary green and dreary brown, the tiny bit of color is a beacon in a winter-worn landscape. Bursting forth from the far edge of the yard — shielded by a cornucopia of hibernating forsythia shrubs and grapevines — the crocus bloom hides under a tired, dry leaf.

On a walk with the dogs, the small speck of a pastel shade draws me near. With care, I remove the litter from last fall’s extravaganza and uncover the pristine blossom. Its petals are open, luxuriating in the rays of the afternoon sun. And its message is clear: Spring is near.

I snap a picture with my camera and tweet the image with a message about the impending season. Soon, others are smiling — retweeting and replying.

It is a beautiful sight. A harbinger of what is to come.

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Days later the purple bloom has withered under harsh weather conditions. It is March, after all. A month of extremes. A time of sun and snow, blue skies and gray clouds, heavy coats and cheery sweater sets.

After months of winter, we yearn for the season of sunshine. Bright red letters on the calendar — “First day of spring” — are a beacon of hope. But as we eye the message with optimism, winter rears its ugly head. More snow, more sleet, more ice.

Looking out my window at a snow-covered landscape, I sigh in disgust when I see rows of spring shoots — crocus, hyacinth and daffodils — covered in a blanket of white.

Nature is ready for the changing season. Why can’t winter get the message?

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We tend to idolize spring, placing it on a pedestal to symbolize all that is warm, bright and shiny in our world. Spring represents bluebirds and baby bunnies. Green grass and flowers in a rainbow of hues.

And in our glass-half-full eagerness to embrace this season of rebirth and sunny weather, we often ignore its less-than-stellar attributes. Let’s not forget spring is also the time for freakish weather, extreme temperature fluctuations, drenching rains and mud. Lots and lots of mud.

For pet owners, spring is synonymous with the footprint season — not outdoors, but inside. When March and April rains roll through the region, no melodic song of water dripping from the window sill can undo the frustration of tiny or giant footprints — depending on one’s dog — tracked across newly washed floors and freshly vacuumed carpet. No matter how much they are “toweled off” — nose to tail to feet — it is seemingly impossible to remove every trace of water. And so throughout the season one embarks on a battle to keep floors clear of muddy paw prints.

Although it is a small price to pay for the devotion and friendship a dog provides and the entrance of this soon-to-be glorious season, it’s still a headache, nonetheless.

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For centuries, scribes have taken pen to paper in a quest to celebrate spring and its attributes.

A Russian proverb tells us “A kind word is like a spring day,” while Emily Dickinson writes that “A little Madness in the Spring Is wholesome even for the King.”

But perhaps, when looking at the season in its truest form, Christopher Pearce Cranch said it best in “A Spring Growl":

“If there comes a little thaw,

Still the air is chill and raw,

Here and there a patch of snow,

Dirtier than the ground below,

Dribbles down a marshy flood;

Ankle-deep you stick in mud

In the meadows while you sing,

‘This is Spring.’ “

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So do we look forward to this new season with optimism or realism? Do we grumble about the nasty weather or take heart in the sight of a bright yellow coltsfoot blooming amidst a landscape of brown?

Do we revel in the rites of spring or grudgingly acknowledge the “rights” of spring?

Despite spring’s imperfections, it is a season we tend to relish — and with good reason. It truly brings a feeling of renewed hope, an outlook for sunnier days and a relief from the cold harshness that is a never-ending cycle of life.

In “Meditations Divine and Moral,” 1655, Anne Bradstreet wrote:

“If we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant: if we did not sometimes taste of adversity, prosperity would not be so welcome.”

Spring comes with a price, but it is well worth the cost.

Samantha Perry is editor of the Daily Telegraph. Contact her at sperry@bdtonline.com. Follow her @BDTPerry.

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