Disclaimer 1: First of all, I must forewarn my beloved readers that I tend to personify the seasons (among other things). Spring is always a she to me. To the surprise of many, I usually think of Summer as a he. Autumn is another she in my thoughts, and Winter is, to me, very definitively a he. But Winter and Spring are the really important characters in this post.
Disclaimer 2: Second of all, I would like to assure my readers that it is not by accident that I throw uppercase letters in at the beginning of my seasons. I have been obstinately opposing (my mother is shocked that I would ever obstinately oppose anybody) my English teachers for years by insisting on capitalizing Spring, Summer, Autumn, and Winter. Why should the glorious seasons, conceived in the mind of God, not receive the same small honor granted to the twelve months designated by human convention?
Now that I have scared half of my readers away with my debatably extreme introduction, we may proceed calmly. I trust that the half of you that remains will not be the least bit surprised by the crazy thinking that is to follow. Then again, if you’ve ever visited One Dead Poet before, you’re probably already accustomed to my crazy thinking. Thanks for hanging in there with me, my equally-crazy readers.
Sometime in late March, I always begin to get the idea that Spring is ridiculously gutsy. Because as we have recently seen, Winter here in the Midwest never bows out gracefully. In fact, I don’t think there was ever a sorer loser than Winter. And he loses every year. You’d think he’d eventually get the idea and just give up on March 20th or 21st, when the Vernal Equinox marks the overthrow of the old regime and the coronation of the new Queen. But he never does. Every time I think he’s out cold (no pun intended) he gets back up for another round.
Just a couple of weeks ago, everyone was cheered by daytime highs rising steadily through the 50s and 60s and gloriously into the 70s. Green things were poking bravely up out of the ground. And my favorite of all, the trees were beginning to flower. I love this time of year when treetops become beautiful clouds of white pear, pink tulip, and purple redbud. On campus, there’s a hilly little lawn that’s almost always empty because it’s no good for playing frisbee. There are too many trees. Not big, foresty trees, but not scrawny little suburban subdivision sidewalk trees either. These are half a dozen beautifully twisted old magnolia trees. Their pink and white blooms are some of the most stunning I’ve seen. Two weeks ago they were all half-open cups catching dew in the mornings to vanish by noon on their faces upturned towards the sun. They remind me of lotus flowers somehow.
I left the house when it was still dark on March 30th. Of course it was cool, so I put on a sweatshirt, but all morning the temperature did nothing but fall. By 1oam, fine flurries of snow were falling. At noon, big, fat December flakes were tumbling from the sky and collecting an inch thick on everything, including the front of my sweatshirt as I walked across campus. But what I saw when I reached the magnolia lawn took my breath away.
Rather than presenting dew up to the sun, every last one of my lovely lotus flowers was filling with fluffy snow under a gray sky. The soft pink was muted by all the white, which made the twisted trunks appear all the blacker and more ancient.
It almost worried me at first. I wondered if my flowers could withstand such a Wintery onslaught, or if they would all wilt from the cold. But somehow the trees didn’t seem to mind. I don’t know what they would have done if they had minded the snow. They are trees after all, but I’ve already told you that I tend to personify inanimate things. And they just almost seemed to be liking the snow. That made me wonder if the transition from Winter to Spring isn’t a battle at all. Maybe it’s more like a dance. Maybe the beauty of March is that sometimes Spring leads and sometimes Spring follows.
An hour later, the sun was shining. You would have never guessed that at lunchtime, a girl in a snow-covered sweatshirt had stopped to admire a scene from a dream: an ancient arboretum of twisted magnolia trees, blooming brilliantly with Spring blossoms and covered magnificently with Winter snow.
And Spring led.