Sunday, May 06, 2007

spring in the northern rockies

In the southern towns where I grew up, spring begins in mid-February. You put out pansies and the crocuses and daffodils come up and then in March, the dogwoods and redbuds start to bloom. By the end of March, the azaleas are out in force, and there are masses of color everywhere. Everything seems to burst back to life overnight. You don't even notice when the grass turns green or the trees leaf out.

The place where I live now is in the northern rockies, and spring is an entirely different affair. It is raw and slow and cold, just not as cold as February. When I first moved here, it seemed to me that the natives decided it was spring in March just because it was March--it had nothing to do with the weather. People start wearing sandals and capris in March just because the sun is out, even though the high for the day will only be 45. You sit watching your child participate in various sports wrapped in a blanket and prepared for wind, rain, sleet and even outright snow. It's nuts.

Of course after nearly 15 years, I've adapted. I find myself wearing capris when it is sunny and 55. But the thing I've come to appreciate about the slow progress of spring up here is how you notice every little thing. Two weeks ago, the grass turned green. This past week, the trees began to leaf out. They seemed dusted with that spring green that is so new it is practically yellow. On Wednesday, the first tulip bloomed in our yard. My internal Southern self still throws up her hands with impatience and says, "It's MAY, for god's sake," but my growing Northern self knows that we're right on schedule for another glorious summer. We get our payback in July when it's sunny and 80 here and the South is sweltering in the dog days.

I can't wait.

Aunt BeaN
reporting from the Northern Rockies, where it is a balmy 58 and sunny at the moment

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