Today’s Flyover People column as seen in The Emporia Gazette:
Usually when spring arrives, we feel as if we’ve earned it.
By the time we get to March, we’ve had enough of dirty snow, of ice scrapers, of wind chill.
But this was a strange winter. It was a little disorienting to wake up on a January morning, step into 50 degree air and try to guess what season it was. We had to ask ourselves – is it spring? Is it fall? Sensing dampness in the air, we’d default to spring.
It was as if we were on a floating calendar, March-like days in December, April-ish days in February. But what really threw us off were the days we had to wear coats.
Now personally, I have long lobbied for a three-season year; the cold and snow I could do without. But I never thought I would see a year that we just skipped winter. In Emporia, we’ve had a few days of flurries and one storm that delivered one measly inch of snow.
Spring tends to be a reluctant season. Most years we have to coax spring out from behind the skirt of winter. But spring is no shy little girl this year. First, she completed that hostile takeover of winter and then started tornado season in February, taking deadly aim on Harveyville.
In any given year, spring has an active to-do list: put leaves on the trees, produce blossoms, green-up the grass, raise the temperature, move air from south to north, create mud, and turn the sky into a carnival of chance.
Rain is always the story of spring. A thin rain comes down like pins and needles. Dashing through heavy rain makes us feel like we’ve been clobbered with a water balloon. A downpour will drench us within a few seconds.
There’s an intimacy that comes with rain. Rain touches skin, touches arms and legs, raindrops caress our cheeks like tears. Rain becomes darkened circles on our blouses and shirts and that cold wetness adheres clothing to skin.
We connect with rain; we taste its drops, smell the earthy fragrance as rain opens the soil.
And there’s just a down-home feeling that comes while listening to the percussion of rain as it pelts the roof or taps on the windows of our homes. Sending our ears outside, we hear the splash of cars on the street, driving on wet pavement.
But there are some days when we don’t hear rain at all. We wake up to gray clouds and then in mid-afternoon we happen to glance out a window and see liquid shadows falling.
While driving through rain at night, each street lamp becomes a halo of light, a distortion of shape and color. Rain softens the edges of the world as it cleans.
And spring, of course, brings a metabolism to the atmosphere that winter lacks. The sky can fire up a good old-fashioned end-of-time thunderstorm.
Off toward the west, an organ plays a hymn of thunder. The notes start out low and soft, but the tempo accelerates and the chorus crescendos with an Old Testament fury. A strike of lightning, a crash of thunder and the clouds let go. We’re not sure if we’ll go down in flood or in flames.
Thunderstorms can be dangerous on their own, but sometimes out of the neurotic sky a certain shade of darkness emerges, a mysterious stranger, a killer tornado that headlines the next day’s newspaper.
For the next few months we will reside in the vortex of spring, the juicy season that comes with turbulence and mud and color.
OK, Miss Spring, we are glad that you’re here, but how about we keep the tornadoes to a minimum this year? Just give us some sweet gentle rain, green rolling hills and a fist full of lilacs.
Copyright 2012 ~ Cheryl Unruh