by Gloria Joynt-Lang
I wrote this blog for my publisher Fiery Seas back in April when there was still snow on the ground.
One of the things I love about living in Canada is having four distinct seasons. That’s right, it isn’t all cold and wintery north of the forty-ninth parallel. Although winter tends to last the longest, we do get blistering hot summers, autumns bursting with color, and of course spring. In the far part of the northern hemisphere, we anticipate spring to such a great extent that we fool ourselves into thinking a groundhog can tell us when it’s coming. Not once have you seen people turn to the mighty Moose to ask him to predict how long winter will be. And although winter keenly arrives early, most of us would be quite fine should it be fashionably late, or better yet, leave when the party is over.
Admittedly, my relationship with spring is conflicted. Years of repeated broken promises have led me to grow distant. In the last few years, I’ve even avoided the official declaration of spring, remaining in Southern California until I could be sure spring would be there to greet me.
After months of enduring winter’s wrath, warmer days and increased hours of sunlight are something us Northerners look forward to. But up here in Canada, as well as parts of the Northern United States, spring doesn’t just pop up overnight. No, it takes its sweet time. And honestly, there are times it seems like it’s taken a detour and gotten lost. I can’t recall the last time the official first day of spring showed up in my neck of the woods without snow on the ground. And even on those rare occasions when there wasn’t any white fluff, we know they’ll be at least one more mother of all snowstorms headed our way.
As I sip warm java bundled in layers and sniffle from day three of a cold, I look outside my window. Not surprisingly, I don’t see any flowers springing from the ground. I don’t even see the ground. An enormous blanket of heavy snow conceals the earth, leaving me no choice but to declare the term spring a misnomer. And if Mother Nature isn’t going to recognize the error of her ways, we need to do something about it. Perhaps an online petition is in order: allowing aggrieved citizens to stay inside their heated homes and demand the removal of incorrect jargon. Because what we have here is something more conducive to sprinter. A mutant hybrid of spring and winter. A slightly warmer extension of winter that will merge into spring if we just hold on for another month or so. Yes, I said a month.
So, let’s rebrand Spring to Sprinter. We’ll do an entire public education promo on this newly created fifth season. Tourists will no longer be shocked when their plane lands on a tarmac surrounded by fields of white in the middle of April. There’ll be no need for us Northerners to get our long johns in a bunch over the bitter disappointment of Spring. We’ll keep our heavy coats and sweaters nearby and enjoy several more weeks of skiing and polar dips. For those unfamiliar with polar dipping, it has nothing to do with polar bears. It’s jumping into an ice-cold lake. And yes, it’s done for no other reason than fun; proof that brain cells are eradicated by months of prolonged winter.
Referring to March 20th as spring is akin to telling your oldest child he can have the larger half of the plate of fries you ordered for him and his brother. At first, he’s excited, perhaps even grateful, but then when he realizes there cannot logically be a larger half, he’s disappointed. That is exactly what Spring feels like where I live. Just google Spring and images of green meadows, blooming tulips, and little girls in sundresses pop up. “Lies,” I scream while starring at ice fishing huts on the frozen lake.
I can accept the scientific term vernal equinox, but on no level can I accept the term spring. Give me sprinter, I now demand. A delayed winter with a scattering of faux spring qualities. I’ll gladly accept a relationship with Sprinter. I know what it is, and what it is not. I’ll be patient with sprinter. I won’t sigh heavily when I see the forecast calls for yet five more inches of snow and below freezing temperatures. And I’ll be grateful to sprinter for only needing to don a wool hat, as opposed to a balaclava; and for gloves instead of fur lined mittens. I’m willing to accept sprinter because I know sprinter isn’t deceptive. I know it’s a season of erratic mood swings. Where you head to your car wearing a light jacket and running shoes, but in the back seat you have boots and a parka.
And when sprinter eventually saunters away next month, I’ll wholeheartedly open my arms to spring. I’ll slowly glance over my shoulder, and giving a quick wave goodbye to my beloved sprinter. Like a friend who doesn’t always tell me what I want to hear, I’ll know sprinter’s been honest.