It’s past the middle of April and much of Canada and the northeastern United States is recovering from the last blasts of winter. The Boston Marathon just ran with what some are calling the worst conditions in over 20 years. Ontario was battered by an ice storm, snow, and sleet. Social media channels are atwitter with weary people lamenting the weather and yearning for relief. Without winter though, we wouldn’t appreciate spring.
In Canada, we are blessed, and cursed, with having four distinct seasons. For much of the country, the seasonal shifts are drastic and often dramatic, and winter is a commonality: cold, dark, and long. In the Pacific Northwest, this manifests as interminable gloom where dark grey nimbus clouds hold the sky hostage for month after month, wrapping sunlight in a hibernal blanket. Winter here means water in unrelenting supply – deluge occasionally giving way to ordinary dampness.
There are few greater joys than the day when I first feel spring in the air. Every year, when it happens, it seems so improbable – like the world as had suddenly changed. The angle of the sun, which has for months been steadily shifting, seems to quite abruptly reach a point where it conveys actual heat. Our backyard chickens, follow the sunny spots projected through the trees and pause their foraging to sunbathe, soaking up the sumptuous warmth – they know.
Like emerging from black and white into technicolor, vibrancy starts to penetrate the senses – signs of new life everywhere. Tiny green buds appear, packed with energy, like pointillist spots speckling the landscape, caressed by the sun until they burst open. White and pink blossoms, popping like candy corn on tree tips and scenting the air with their delicate floral notes. Birds and frogs add their verses to the sensual chorus, the cautious tones of winter giving way to the full-throated cacophony.
The same energy that opens buds and pushes shoots from the warming earth always awakens in me a sense of possibility and anticipation. Though I know this spring holds many grey days ahead, this feeling of opening breaks the winter’s inertia, pulling me outdoors.
For my family, there’s no greater ritual to mark the start of spring than our first meal, cooked and eaten outside. The firewood that we used to warm our house all winter long now finds a place in our Caldera outdoor fire pit and is stoked by the cool evening wind into glorious glowing coals. Together we encircle the heat, broiling skewered sausages and apples on sticks, laughing and recounting our days under the darkening sky.
Though Spring in Canada is a tease – she giveth and she taketh away – the momentum has started. The restless energy that waited patiently through the long dark winter, has woken me.