This is my fourth spring in Oregon, so I can say with some certainty that it’s my favorite season here. Autumn is a close second as the trees turn brilliant Halloween colors and the long scorching summer comes to an end. But spring is magic. The anticipated but always unexpected plum blossoms appear one day on skeletal trees. Yellow daffodils gather to nod in bunches on the highway strips, so goofy and beautiful that I laugh as I pass. The hills and fields glow with the neon green of new grass. You blink, and the mustard is in flower, fluorescent yellow patches of rangy blooms. The sun cracks through the clouds and pours light and warmth. Then it rains and the hills are roughed and softened with fog.
I never know what to wear. In light layers, I’m cold by morning, broiling by afternoon. For the first time in months, I leave the windows open. The bamboo wind chime clinks musically outside the kitchen.
I haven’t mentioned the miracle of the crocuses cracking open their purple heads early in March, shy heralds. Now in April the cherries don their Easter dresses, soft pink pom poms of blooms. More tumults of color are on the way: tulips and irises and flowers I don’t have names for. Bright fluorescents and pastels everywhere against a backdrop of dark evergreens, burgundy, and navy blue, under a washed-out denim sky.
I never liked flowers. The hibiscus outside my window in Florida was always in bloom, a pretty lady good for nothing except dressing up and hanging out at the corner of the condo building. Cut flowers at the grocery store waited in bundles to be dropped into a vase and wilt on someone’s table.
In Oregon, flowers are a riot. They sing and shout and paint themselves in wild patches over the landscape. They shower their petals like confetti over the pavement and paste themselves to cars. They speak. And, under the attention of bees, they hum. Flowers are joy in life.
Spring is sweet sap smells. It is longer days. Asparagus from the market. Blue carpets of camas lilies at the park.
It is also when I realize how stale the house smells, something I don’t notice until a cool, clean breeze moves through the rooms. It’s the season of picnics that are excitedly planned with sunny lawns in mind, then hastily cancelled for wind storms.
And flies. Where did they come from, and why are they all in my house?
We haven’t even gotten to the part of spring when an expanding hose in my car cracks and sprays stinking coolant onto my engine in the heat of the afternoon, and the car comes to a smoking halt. I, like my car, have broken down in the overwhelm of sudden change and swinging temperatures. Everything is expanding.
My favorite part of spring, though, is the particular shade of new leaf green and the way it appears one day like fuzzy down on bare branches. Hello.