When you live in a part of the world where the seasons are distinctively different, the arrival of spring is always welcome.
In Canada, where winters are long and cold, the receding snow and temperatures above zero Celsius are always a warm blessing — literally. There’s only so much of minus 10C a person can bear, and shovelling snow just to get your car from your driveway is indeed tedious. I once saw winter temperatures fall to minus 50C, water turned to ice instantly and the rubber car tyres froze overnight, and when you started to drive away there was a thump, thump, thump until such a time as they warmed up.
Then again, living in Dubai, temperatures near 50 degrees Celsisus are not uncommon. It’s safe to say that I’m happy in a range that hovers from 10 to 30 — above!
I was in Norway recently and waded through deep snow in the mountainous forests. It’s exhausting — and uncomfortable too. The sweat of exertion quickly turns cold in the low temperatures and the danger of hypothermia is increased.
I once worked in a newspaper in Ontario where, every spring on March 23, the editor responsible for the Opinion pages would stand up on his desk and recite to all and sundry: “Spring has sprung, the grass has riz, I wonder where my pay rise is?” It was always greeted with a cheer and, as he was an American who fled north to Canada to avoid the Vietnam draft, he was a rebel at heart.
Purple crocus are always the first flowers of spring, edging upwards through the soil as January gives way to February. As March and April arrive, they colour the countryside with a dash of mauve and purple.
Following soft on their petals come the yellow daffodils, a clear sign that spring has indeed truly sprung. Then come the tulips in their dizzying arrays of colours.
Yes, it is indeed no wonder that back in the 18th century, tulips were the equivalent of Bitcoin, were traded as feverishly, and were responsible for the collapse of the Dutch mercantile economy.
On the trees and bushes, the new budding shoots have grown and opened, there are 40 shades of green bursting forth and there is a palpable sense of renewable in the countryside.
In flush fields, young calves whose legs are too long, stay close to their big brown-eyed mother cows. There are lambs close to ewes and cygnets close to swans.
In the ditches, where the water is clean and moving ever so gently, the first stirrings of tadpoles are wriggling, others who won’t survive lying listlessly, a reminder that the cycle of life is indeed cruel, that some never stand a chance, and that the passing seasons are signposts towards the inevitable conclusion for us all now.
This is a time where the birds are busy, flying back and forth with the building materials that will build a new nest for the months to come and the young that will take their first fretful flight on the wing.
From the fields where sheep have strayed close to the barbed fences, the wise birds gather wool that will line and insulate their homes in the branches. They carry twigs that are larger than they, and all must possess a degree in structural engineering to be able to construct in such a manner and in such places as chimney breasts and tree limbs.
The season is a harbinger of what is to come. It is the clarion call for renewal, for new life, for a new generation to come forth.
It is a reminder indeed of how truly precious life itself is.