Not all springtimes are the same. In Connecticut, there are about fifty kinds of springs, and most of them, sad to say, are abominably cold and uncommitted, like bachelors who are determined to resist love. Then they turn HOT all of a sudden one day, and people go around complaining, like this is something they just thought of: “We NEVER get a springtime. We always go from winter to summer…”
People are never happy about the way spring is going, that’s the one lesson you learn living here.
But this spring has been so fantastic that it could give lessons to all the other springtimes.
Here’s the blueprint for a perfect spring. You need an early hot spell. Let the temp go up to 70 or even 80, even though it still looks like mid-winter outside. Take three days of this. In a row—that’s important. A day of 80 followed by a day of 50 and then four days later, another day of 75—that’s not going to get you jumpstarted into any kind of spring worth its salt.
Once you’ve had three days near 80 degrees, the magic has happened. Buds get the idea that maybe they could bloom sometime. The leaves wake up, stretch, and start stirring inside those sticks. Crocuses and blades of grass: everything starts poking its way through the soil. Encouraged, the sun starts hanging a bit higher in the sky, calling out to the blossoms.
And then it turns cold again, but you don’t care. Cheer this coldness, in fact. You don’t want it to stay warm. That’s where a lot of springs make their mistake. They think that if they work themselves up to 80 degrees one day, we all will demand that every day. But no, we don’t want that. We don’t mind if it goes back down to 50, because the spark has been ignited, and spring is launched.
If it gets too hot, the tulips poke up through the soil one morning, unfurl their leaves by noontime, their feverish red petals by 3 p.m., and then are wilted and tired by 6. Like some of the girls you knew in high school.
But some cold weather after hot: that is the true secret to spring. The tulips hang around, coquettish in the morning chill, lasting long after we had any right to expect them. They are there to welcome the dogwoods, to cheer on the forsythia, to smile at the magnolia.
It’s April 29, and some people I know have mowed their lawns TWICE, and everything has this soft, fresh, apple-green look to it. The air is chilly, the petals blow on the breeze, skitter across the yard, and yet there are more still opening up on the trees, in the shrubbery. It is not winter, it is not summer. It is clearly and plainly spring, young and bright and feverishly, sexily blooming everywhere you look.