I refuse to say it's really spring before the equinox--a word I adore, incidentally, especially when paired with autumnal or vernal. Those phrases have always sounded like poetry to me, but the vernal equinox has always been particularly evocative. The dictionary meanings of vernal (springlike, pertaining to spring, fresh and young, and so on) are one thing, but apart from that the word itself sounds to me like the linguistic embodiment of lush deep green, moss that your hands sink into, fecundity and shoots reaching through the soil and water beginning to move again and sex. It's positively Bacchanalian.
It may not really be spring yet, but it feels like spring here. The last few days have been in the mid-to-high fifties, and I managed to get out on my bike twice while the going was good. (Saturday the projected high is somewhere around 40, with rain expected.) It's taken me by surprise. The odd thing is that I actually sort of (I hesitate to say this aloud) enjoyed winter this year, and I'm almost (cry blasphemy from the rooftops!) sad to see it go. It's shocking, I know. But we had an unusually mild winter this year, and because the cold rarely if ever reached painful levels I was able to appreciate it and even enjoy it in a way that hasn't been as possible for me in past years. Cold is a rather unappreciated state of being, as my friend E up in Alaska likes to point out. And while I don't know how well I'd deal with her levels of chill, I was happy with my own this particular year.
Still, though, for me the joy of a cold-but-not-too-cold morning walk still pales before the first flowers of spring. I saw mine today: first some tiny dark purple irises and then some purple-and-white striped crocus. I nearly squealed aloud at the irises; I guess I've been too busy riding my bike to look at the ground as closely as I normally would. As a florist and also as somebody who tries to milk the most out of "nature" in the city--even when nature is in the form of cultivated flowers growing in an urban front yard--I try to pay close attention to what is growing around me. (Otherwise, most of what I have to ponder is in the form of squirrels and pigeons, which for the most part I find only nominally interesting, with migratory birds and insects thrown into the mix to liven things up a bit.) And yet, every year, by the time I figure out that there are flowers blooming, I look around me and realize that they're already everywhere. I forget sometimes, I guess, that nature moves so quickly.
Spring here is a fickle season, and so I'm sure I still have plenty of chilly morning walks in my future. Now, though, I'll be keeping a closer eye out for life coming up around me. The trickle that becomes the gush that becomes summer has begun, and I want to see it happen.