Every spring when the first buds appear on the trees and the doves return to my backyard I am filled with an overwhelming sense of joy. Winters are difficult for me when the days stay grey and dreary. I need sun to boost my mood. I don’t mind the cold at all. In fact I prefer it to heat, but I can’t take too many days filled with gloomy skies. The early spring where I live resurrects my optimism every single year.
By the middle of March the roses that I pruned in February are sprouting with a profusion of new leaves and sometimes even a bud or two. My amaryllis bulbs begin to push flower filled shoots up from the ground. My azalea bushes fill with incredible blooms. Even the stray bluebonnet plants that I grew from seeds one year give promise of lovely blue flowers popping up in my garden. Then there is my Peggy Martin rose, a true survivor grafted from a plant in New Orleans that came back to life after standing in water for weeks after hurricane Katrina. Peggy wins the prize for demonstrating the promise of new beginnings every single year.
The first blush of spring is cool in the early mornings. I don a light sweater as I sip on my tea and relish the fact that I no longer have to rush off to work the way I did for most of my life. I like that I can take walks and pull weeds without getting hot. The weather here is perfect for me and I spend as much time outside as I am able. I know that soon summer will encroach on my comfort with a sun that burns my skin and heat that saps my energy and enthusiasm. I embrace spring with every ounce of joy that I possess because it will be lovely but brief.
It won’t be until the fall that I feel such unadulterated joy again. The crispness of cool days returns just in time for me to prepare my beloved garden and my potted plants for the winter. Everything begins its hibernation and moves from lush to almost barren. The great sleep of nature is heralded by falling leaves, changing colors and grass that is alive, but not growing. Fall is harvest time when oranges and pumpkins are plentiful. Nature gives us one more chance to really enjoy its glories before the frosty mornings take command.
I love the fall almost as much as I do the spring, especially when I get to travel to places where the colors of October burst forth in shades of red, yellow, orange and gold. I like donning my boots and making pumpkin bread and apple pie. It is a time for celebrating the birthdays of my two sets of twin grandchildren and for becoming another year older on my own birthday. Fall is about Halloween and the Houston Bulb Mart where I purchase new plants that will take root and then burst forth in glory in the spring. Autumn is a slower time when I pause to give thanks, gathering with my family around a table of plenty.
It’s difficult for me to choose one season over the other. I get excited with each spring and each fall. It is summer and winter that leave me longing. Summers here are so hot that they sap my energy. I can only spend so much time outside in the heat before I need to take refuge. The only thing that I have ever loved about summer was having a long vacation from the school year when I had the time to read books chosen by me rather than my teachers or bosses and I had the luxury of sleeping in and taking naps.
Now that I am retired, summer holds nothing special for me. I can vacation any time that I wish. I am the master of my own schedule. Summer taxes my plants that whither as much under the heat as I do. My time outside is limited by the temperatures that race toward triple digits. Not even the children in my neighborhood venture outside, choosing instead to meet and play in air conditioned rooms. Summer feels stifling to me.
The winters here are mild compared to other places. There are days when we are able to venture outside in shirtsleeves. Freezes and snow are rare, but we cheerfully don our boots and act as though we need heavier clothing that never seems to wear out from lack of use. For a time the Christmas season keeps me filled with joy, but then January and February steal the pleasure with their shortened days and their scarcity of sun. I often feel that we humans might be happier if we simply surrendered to being dormant like the rest of nature is. A long hibernation seems the natural thing to do.
So spring and fall are the winning seasons for me. I have noticed that most people choose spring and summer as their favorites, so I suppose I’m an outlier in my tastes. I know what makes me happy and luckily the earth’s revolution around the sun perks me up just when I have grown weary of summer and winter. For now I will enjoy the spring with every bit of time and enthusiasm that I have. Nature is calling me and I must go.