Growing up in southern California meant that I didn't really understand all the fuss about spring. I now understand this better, having weathered some east coast and Rocky Mountain winters -- even our mild-to-the-rest of the country winters seem harsh to me.
The harbinger of spring in most parts of the country is the first sight of a robin foraging for food. In my walks through the bosque in March, I tune my sights for that first glimpse of a robin's brick-red breast, but I also look for other signs of spring -- the reddish nubs of budding branches, small shoots of green poking through autumn's brown litterfall, and the increasing number of people who are seasonal users of the bosque. For me, the colors of spring have always been too narrow; early spring reflects the colors of our chile -- red and green, and not just the spring green of a Crayola crayon.
Is the desire to move our bodies after a long winter an artifact of seasonal slowing? Humans don't exactly hibernate, of course, but the longer nights and shorter days make it harder for me to motivate myself to head outdoors for a workout in the dark. Now that the time has reverted back, I'm itching to get back on the trail for a slow jog. With age has come a bit of prudence, so that jog will be set at reptilian pace, to warm as my bones acclimate to the pounding all over again.
Spring doesn't just arrive with small signals outdoors, of course. As the weather warms, the changes are reflected in my kitchen offerings as I pass on the root vegetables at the Co-op, selecting peas and baby greens to motivate my culinary creativity. For me, the season of spring in the kitchen is bound up with the seasonal cooking of the Syrian Orthodox women who populated my childhood -- not so much the strict diet of Orthodox Lent, but the cakes and pastries that start to show up as the soil eases.
The warmer temperature of last week inspired me to make a basboosa semolina cake doused with lemon and rosewater syrup. Nothing brings me back to childhood memories of spring faster than a kitchen scented with rose water and orange water mixed with the earthiness of freshly tilled soil coming through the open window. The sound of old ladies speaking with their accented Arabic-accented English as they decide who will do what, still fills my head even though these women are long gone.
The new life of spring, be it lambing or sprouting, gives rise to the urge to capture this excitement through action. Some start lusting (or rutting?) with the urge to procreate. (The products of such action often thwarted through the miracle of medical technology, of course.) Others yearn to convey spring through art -- heading outdoors with an easel or sketchpad. Still others sit down with a writing utensil, hoping to haiku or even slam into spring softness.
Which brings me to a small announcement: next week heralds an exciting poetry event here in the Duke City -- the Women of the World Poetry Slam. Check it out!