Before I moved to New York, spring didn’t really register on my radar. In inland San Diego County, where I grew up, winter (a vaguely cold and damp 6-8 week period from about Christmas to Valentine’s Day) morphs slowly into the blazing hot six-month summer without any fanfare at all. You just wake up one day and realize you can’t open your car door without scalding the top layer of skin off your hand. No specific change in the air, no sudden shock of flowers. The mornings and nights are still cool and the air always almost painfully dry. I categorized spring and fall in the same culturally relevant way that I thought of snowmen in winter or fireflies and cicadas in summer. Useful when trying to set a universally understood mood for a scene in a novel, but not actually part of real life.
And then I moved to New York and survived my first real winter. Everyone kept saying “layers” to me, but I didn’t really get how to dress as warmly as I needed to, resulting in several days when I didn’t even make it to my morning class, instead turning around and going home to take a long, hot shower, get under the covers, and pretend like I didn’t have to come out until spring. My relationship with winter has improved dramatically since I learned how to tie a scarf like battle armor against the wind and invested in some serious wool socks, but my relationship with spring has never been the same.
Now when I think spring, I think tulips and daffodils. Light jackets and sunglasses. And that one day when you wake up, breathe in, and the air just feels different. Renewal is so stereotypically spring that you would think it overdone, but really, every year I feel the same way. I literally never thought spring was actually like this somewhere in the world. And now that I’ve experienced an actual, real first day of spring, I never want to give it up.
(Paintings by the incredible Karin Johannesson)