How to tell that spring is here

Published 6:48 pm Friday, April 19, 2019


Life with a Smile

You can’t trust the calendar to tell you when spring starts in Kentucky. Mother Nature doesn’t believe in arriving on a set schedule in the Bluegrass State. But despite her best efforts at playing coy, there are ways to know that we’ve crossed that seasonal threshold, tiptoeing out of winter and into spring.

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I know it’s spring when the ambient color scheme of the world suddenly goes berserk. Overnight, the browns and greys of winter morph into electric green and that delightfully shocking purple, unique to redbuds in bloom. I passed a house the other day whose front yard was completely covered in a multi-hued carpet of flocks. I swear that yard was barren a week ago.

This year, my front yard is full of tiny purple violets. Their arrival feels like a magic trick because I cannot remember them being there last year. But where on earth (as it were) could thousands of flowers have come from over the course of the winter? I am puzzled, but delighted — and also possibly bad at remembering details from previous years’ gardening adventures.

And speaking of gardens I know that it’s spring because things are growing in mine. Despite the heavy footballs of exuberant children and my tendency to bury seeds too deeply in the ground, my snap peas have sprouted and my strawberry plants are cheerfully running amok. Even the raspberry canes that got “weeded” by a helpful child seem to be holding their own, now that they’ve been rescued and re-planted.

When you’re standing outside, you can smell spring. Sometimes it smells like a neighbor grilling hamburgers (yay) and sometimes it smells like fresh mulch in the flowerbed (ewww) but either way, it’s a sign of the season. I personally love the smell of freshly-mown grass, but unfortunately you only get that smell when you mow your lawn.

Which brings me to my next observation — you know it’s spring when you reluctantly haul the lawn mower out of the garage, dust if off, sprinkle it with holy water and pray that it starts after its winter hibernation. Mine hasn’t been too excited to return to duty, but in fairness it could be picking up on my reluctance to return to lawn-care maintenance.

In my defense, the grass is always wet. Always. Even when I am quite sure it hasn’t rained in several days. Ah, Kentucky humidity. I love you so. My mower, on the other hand, wants no part of the long squishy grass scene and regularly clogs up and stops working.

Thus, let’s add “the sound of heartfelt cursing” to our telltale markers of spring. Or maybe that’s just at our house.

Perhaps a more universally acknowledged sound-of-spring is that of kids playing outside. This may be one of my favorite ways to tell that the seasons have changed. Although this winter was pretty mild and my kids are pretty hearty, their outdoor activity naturally ratchets up as the weather improves. One afternoon this week, I peeked out the window to see all three of them arrayed in the driveway. My son was sprawled on his stomach doing homework; my older daughter was building with Legos she had carried outside; my youngest rode her tricycle up and down the drive.

On a sunny Saturday afternoon, it’s not unusual to find an entire pack of children playing in the yard. It doesn’t have to be my yard. Sometimes the neighborhood posse takes advantage of yards with trampolines or heads to the park en masse, the bigger ones racing each other on bicycles while the younger kids walk or ride scooters, shrieking at their older siblings to wait up.

We’ve been eating dinner outside, too, taking advantage of this small, beautiful window of time when the temperature is warm and the bugs are still waking up. By mid summer, the heat and the mosquitoes will chase us back inside to the sanctity of an air-conditioned room for meals, so you know it’s spring when we’re dining al fresco.

You can feel spring in the air the moment you step outside. Sometimes it’s because the pollen assaults your sinuses but more often it’s the feeling of sunshine after the chill — or even the prickle in the air of a rainstorm brewing. Sometimes I just stand in my backyard, taking in all the sights, sounds, smells and sensations.

There’s no hiding it anymore. Spring is here!