Spring slips into place today. There is a good chance that where you are now doesn’t look or feel like spring. In Paradelle, it still looks like winter but for a few buds on trees or shoots poking out of the muddy ground. Of course, you might be south of me and it looks like summer, or far north where winter still reigns.
Spring 2021 in the Northern Hemisphere will begin on March 20 and ends on
June 20. By that last day of spring, it will probably look and feel like summer here.
In William Carlos Williams’ poem, “Spring and All,” the opening is rather ominous.
By the road to the contagious hospital
under the surge of the blue
mottled clouds driven from the
northeast—a cold wind.
Williams wrote the poem not long after T. S. Eliot’s “The Waste Land,” was published. Eliot’s poem also opens with a not-so-favorable view of early spring.
April is the cruellest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain.
Eliot goes on to use an image of winter that is not typical:
Winter kept us warm, covering
Earth in forgetful snow, feeding
A little life with dried tubers.
When we brought my first son home from the hospital, it was the first day of spring and the daffodils, crocuses, and wood hyacinths were covered with snow. Spring is a fickled season.
In literature and mythology, spring usually concerns themes of rebirth and renewal with symbols from the season. Spring also refers to love, hope, youth and growth. The seasonal symbolism for this period may also allude to religious celebrations such as Passover or Easter.
Today is that moment that is the Vernal Equinox. Vernal translates to “new” or “fresh.” The two equinoxes come from the Latin aequus (equal) and nox (night). The time of daylight between sunrise and sunset has been growing slightly longer each day since the Winter Solstice in December. Of course, we messed with the celestial plan last weekend with Daylight Saving Time.
I still try to mark the vernal equinox as it has been seen for centuries as a turning point. It is not the only turning point, but daylight does defeat darkness, and that is a reason to celebrate.
Soon, I hope the only things like snowfall here will the storm of blossoms from cherry and other spring-blooming trees.