Friday, March 9, 2012

Spring is in the Air

It looks like spring is on its way.

Daffodils are growing tall. The greening grass is splattered with crocus blooms. Signs point to warmer weather despite the fact that one morning this past week we woke to a dusting of snow. Even though the snow quickly melted, we were reminded that Nature calls the shots.

Spring is a pleasant reward after months of chilly weather, although everyone will agree that most of the Midwest this year was spared deep snows and prolonged cold.

I always enjoy the change of seasons. Many Midwest residents are fearful of the winter and flee each year to locations such as Arizona and Florida, proudly deeming themselves "snow birds." They begin to panic in early fall, opting to pack and leave before the first chill. Some of these folks actually maintain two residences, either renting an apartment or keeping a house all year at a location where they live for a few months. This has never made much sense to me.

My parents lived in southern California during its golden heyday in the 1930s. The unpolluted air and pristine beach and parks remained in their minds even after family demands caused them to return to the Midwest after two years. They knew someday they would move back to warmer climates and in 1960, our family moved to Arizona.

Living in Arizona in the 1960s was fun and refreshing. The state hadn't yet grown to bursting and the air was still fit to breathe. Since then, things have certainly changed. None of my family and only a handful of friends remain in Arizona, the rest having fled to more normal lifestyles elsewhere in the country. New Arizona residents must be folks who never lived there when the state and its conditions were warm, clean, welcoming, peaceful and sophisticated. They must not be aware of the desert's grander days. They missed the boat.

Despite all that Arizona had going for it decades ago, there was always one thing it was missing -- the change of seasons. Perhaps it was because I had spent my childhood in the Midwest, but the Arizona climate is boring. We used to laugh about living at a location that had two seasons -- summer and not summer. Air conditioning has made life possible during months when the temperatures rarely dropped below 100° . There was a sameness to the desert weather that drove some people to the edge. We used to drive north to the Mogollon Rim for a different weather experience in fall when leaves turned, to see the snow or to feel the breeze through the pines.

It is nice to see the seasons change. The transition sets the rhythm for many facets of life. Kids play in the summer, then return to school for nine months. People wait for summer to plant gardens and take vacations. Fall offers a chance to slow down, enjoy football and cookouts, Halloween and Thanksgiving. Winter means the holiday season, cold nights, fireplaces and sweaters. Then spring returns bringing flowers, house projects, returning to the outdoors and renewed enthusiasm about fitness and long walks.

What's not to like about having four seasons?

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