Wherever I’ve lived, I have always anticipated the arrival of spring. I look forward to the lengthening days, the returning birds, the possibility of warmer temperatures and fewer layers of clothing. The season provides a tangible example of confident renewal and hope – despite any challenge the previous months have brought our way. I am completely enamored by springtime in the South! I will openly admit that even eleven years after my arrival in South Carolina, I remain completely awed. Springtime in the Lowcountry is a totally unique experience.
Perhaps that is due to the easy transition provided by the native plants. As turkeys are placed in ovens, football games are played, and Christmas lights are hung, overnight temperatures drop low enough to trigger the blooms of the camellias and the sweet fragrance they emit. The blooms are faded and wilted before the Christmas trees are taken to the curb and the decorations put away. However, the tea olives take over in January and that sweet fragrance is once again in the air. Dormant lawns are the final hold out. Yet there is a knowing confidence that even brown lawns are about to change!
My friends in colder climates struggle with understanding the concept of springtime in the Lowcountry. They continue to deal with the challenges of winter and perhaps those of life. They battle frigid temperatures, accumulating snow or ice, and short, dark days. It is difficult for them to imagine what we are experiencing. We have bluebirds returning to nest. We make anxious trips to greenhouses to purchase flowering plants when the groundhog has barely determined the prognostication for the next several weeks. We are ready to move ahead and secure in the hope of the new season.
In the south, we are reminded by meteorologists and nursery employees, that we should not trim or plant until after St. Patrick’s Day. We have no guarantee that all possibilities of frost and freeze are behind us. Yet we are incapable of restraint. We eagerly trim dead branches, prune and clean up shrubs and beds. Perhaps it’s because we are confident we will not confront snakes this early. Or, we are all too aware that these lovely temperatures are a brief treasure. Before we know it, the heat and humidity will settle over us. All will want nothing more than to be at the beach or in the house.
Growing up in Chicago, the season never matched the calendar, and was completely unpredictable in its arrival time. In fact, my most memorable Spring was in the sixth grade. I had a lovely spring dress with very grown up pink patent leather shoes that were cut out on the sides. I was feeling very womanly after garnering the prize of panty hose as well. I was more anxious to attend Easter Mass than I had ever been. However, upon awakening, we had inches of snowfall. I sloshed my way through the snow in my lovely pink shoes. I had no choice but to wear my heavy winter coat-which was bright red with a faux fur collar-feeling terribly disappointed by what the weather had dispensed.
Springtime in the Lowcountry can offer surprises as well. March can come in like a lamb with warm temperatures and balmy nights. Days later, the daytime highs can remind us of the Midwest weather we left behind. Nighttime temperatures can drop well below freezing. We immediately grab warm jackets, blankets, and again head for the comfort of a glowing fire!
Still, the birds are undeterred, the buds continue to open on the trees, and our spirits remain optimistic. We are joyful in anticipation of the perfect weeks of renewal, hope, and ideal weather we know are approaching. The days continue to lengthen and the grass turns green. We start our lawn mowers and spend as much time as possible outdoors. We enjoy this gift of nature during the narrow window that we have. Southerners understand the intensity of the heat of the days that await. Locals know we will suffer the humidity that makes outdoor activities a chore. We recognize that we will be ready to discard wilted and weathered plants long before the calendar states that it is fall. We feel grateful for the time we have been given. We are confident that this respite will carry us through until the cooler weather returns and the cycle begins again.
We happily embrace the season of renewal and hope! We stockpile the confidence it brings for the challenges we know lie ahead. We are grateful for the ability to recognize that life – and the challenges it brings – is like the changing of seasons and the arrival of spring. It is cyclical, often unpredictable, and provides a valuable tool in lessons of hope, renewal, gratitude and love! Wherever you may live, and whatever you may face, may you cherish the lessons the season provides. May you make many new memories, reflect upon those of the past, and share them with our readers. Happy Spring to all!