Sunday, April 06, 2008

Spring: Not My Favorite Season

This morning I posted "Week Thirty-Five: Spring" over at my journal prompt blog, AnceStories2: Stories of Me for My Descendants. And I have to admit, Spring is not my favorite season. In fact, to name them in favorite to least favorite order, they are Fall, Summer, Winter and Spring.

Now some people just get all excited about Spring. They love that the snow is gone and the flowers are coming up, the days are getting longer and warmer. But to me, Spring has always been too vague, uncertain, and variant. As Lucy from Peanuts would say: "Wishy-washy." By the time we can actually say that Spring is here, it's late May, and summer is just around the corner. Spring brings snow, hail, wind, rain, ice, sun, clouds, and more of the above...usually all in one afternoon, too! When I was a girl growing up in Southeast Alaska and we had Spring weather like that, it was called "Fish Egg Weather," because it meant it was the time when the salmon went upstream to spawn. I remember seeing a creek which was located about a mile from our home being absolutely choked with salmon laying their eggs. Since the weather as a whole (wet and rainy) didn't seem a whole lot different in Spring compared to Summer or Fall (Southeast Alaska gets 160 - 180 inches of rain a year), it's hard to look back on my childhood memories and say definitively, "this happened in the Spring," or "this was a Spring memory."

One thing we had to be cautious about in Alaska in the Spring was the fact that bears were coming out of hibernation and 1) they were hungry; and 2) the females had their cubs with them. These were not pleasant thoughts to consider while walking the lonely one-mile long road from our house to town on the way to school and then back in the afternoon! Dad always said, "they're more afraid of you than you are of them" (doubtful!) and "make a lot of noise while you're walking, like singing or whistling, so they can hear you coming and go away," which is probably how I got into the bad habit of talking to myself, while doing mundane tasks. :-) Since these were black bears, not grizzlies, I was pretty safe, and I never did run into any on my way to school or back. In fact, it was my brother who ran into a bear when he was about 5 or 6 years old in the woods behind our house, and it happened after we moved to Eastern Washington. The bear ran off, and I'm sure Adriaen did, too...in the opposite direction!

On a side note: one of the things we did for fun was to drive to the dump several miles down the road between Klawock (our home town) and Craig to watch the bears. We didn't have television on the island at that point and there wasn't a theater, either (it burned down not long after we moved there), so entertainment had to be creative! There would be bears all over that dump, especially on garbage day. I remember one time when we went, there was a sow and three cubs, and as they ran off into the woods, the third cub was limping a bit. We saw plenty of sows with twin cubs over the years, but that was the only time we saw one with triplets.

One nice thing about Spring in Alaska was that there seemed to be a lot of rainbows during that time. My friends and I had a superstition that you couldn't point at a rainbow, because that would make it disappear. Funny how kids are!

Once my parents started their little farm, Spring meant baby animals being born: goat kids, bunnies, and chicks, ducklings, and goslings. It also meant a lot of work, because the kids had to be bottle-fed so that we could milk their mothers. And as anyone who's ever had a farm or small homestead knows, Spring is the beginning of plowing, planting, and lots of weeding!

When we moved to Eastern Washington in 1979, it took some getting used to a different climate. This side of the state is called the "dry side" for good reason; unlike the West Side, which is more like Southeast Alaska in its climate (damp and rainy), Eastern Washington has four distinct seasons and much drier air. Summer and winter go to temperature extremes, with August blazing in at over 100*F and winter dropping as low as -40* temps when you consider the wind chill factor. Spring was more defined as a season in Eastern Washington than in Alaska, I noticed when I moved here. There are a lot more deciduous trees, which, of course, bloom (the magnolia next door is a favorite); and the lower latitudes allow for a longer growing season, so I could see a lot more variety in the flowers that grew in people's gardens. However, Spring also meant pollen, especially pine pollen. The grand Ponderosa pines in this region put out huge quantities of pollen which are visible in the air on windy days, or on lake and pond surfaces in thick green layers. I lived in this area for nearly 20 years before I figured out why I was getting so run down every May...to the point of becoming pretty ill: I have allergies. One of the things that also seems to trigger my symptoms is lilac blooms...and where do I live? In the Lilac City, no less!

Eastern Washington has fairly clay-ey (is that a word?) soil. Every spring, my parents' long driveway would turn to a sticky, muddy mess as the deep snow melted. Seems I remember numerous times when our 1940-something four-wheel-drive Willey's Jeep and other assorted vehicles they owned got stuck in the driveway. Dad cut back a lot of trees over the years to let in sunshine to the driveway to help dry up the mud, but still, it often meant many summer days for us kids scouring the garden, roadsides and woods for medium-sized rocks to fill in the ruts. After all those years, you'd think their driveway would be cobblestoned from the amount of rocks we placed in it!

Spring Break was always a great relief (and still is, now that I work for a school district!). We never took vacations (as a school custodian, that was/is one of Dad's busiest work weeks). My favorite Spring Break happened when I was a junior, I think. It wasn't anything special, but I remember we had a picnic, and there was a favorite musical on TV. I just remember it was a fun family time.

I don't have a particular favorite Spring holiday now, although as a kid, Easter was a favorite, for obvious reasons. And speaking of favorites, my favorite Spring food is fresh asparagus, which is shipped up here from the Yakima Valley and is simply delicious!

So although Spring may not be a favorite season, there are still enough enjoyable things happening to make it be "okay" for me. What about you? How do you feel about Spring? And will you leave some Spring stories for your descendants to read someday?
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